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LaMelo Ball ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s latest mock draft, but NBA teams worried about LaVar Ball effect

LaMelo Ball, LaVar Ball

LaMelo Ball ascended to the top of the charts in ESPN’s latest 2020 NBA Mock Draft after a pair of consecutive triple-doubles for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League. Yet some NBA front offices are still hesitant to select him that high, worried about the strength of his work ethic and that his father, LaVar Ball, could play a role in hindering his career.

Ball has shown an excellent array of skills and a transcendent feel for the game at the pro level, enough to warrant draft experts Jonathan Givony and Mike Schmitz to collectively regard him as top selection in next year’s draft. However, that hasn’t stopped NBA teams from hoping to prevent a would-be circus:

“However, I believe that if the draft were held today, he probably would not be the No. 1 pick,” Givony wrote on Friday. “Of course, that will heavily depend on the team that ends up winning the May lottery. But both Schmitz and I have just received a significant amount of blowback from NBA teams who say that they simply don’t trust Ball enough to hand him the keys to their franchise. They worry about what all the attention around him will do to their team culture, how strong his work ethic is and whether his father, LaVar, could become a distraction.”

Ball’s skill is at this point undeniable, but while questions about his strength and physicality still remain, there’s also worry that his work ethic might not be up to par.

Perhaps the biggest factor is the presence of LaVar, who already had a hand in distracting Lonzo Ball with his own brand of sneakers, something that became a circus and took away from the focus on his play. Following some nightmarish shooting in his rookie season, Lonzo spent a large part of the 2018-19 season on the sidelines, nursing a bevy of injuries.

Now detached from his father in New Orleans, Lonzo appears to be making the progress fans had hoped for years ago, away from his hometown. LaMelo is perhaps even more talented than his older brother, but as long as LaVar remains in the picture, teams will think long and hard about whether the talent is worth the headache.