ESPN Now Projecting LaMelo Ball To The Knicks As The No. 1 Pick In The NBA Draft

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Due to his stellar play Down Under, LaMelo Ball has been in discussion as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft for several months now.

In the latest ESPN.com mock draft released on Monday, the 6-foot-7 Ball is now projected to go No. 1 to the Knicks.

After blowing another fourth-quarter lead and being outscored 32-19 by the visiting Boston Celtics on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks fell to 4-16 on the season. They are 21-81 since the start of the 2018-19 season.

The injury-plagued Warriors own the NBA’s worst record (4-17) heading into Monday’s action, while the Knicks and Hawks are both at 4-16. The three teams with the worst record all have a 14 percent chance at the top pick, and a 52.1 percent chance at a top-4 pick.

ESPN currently has Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards as the No. 2 pick, with Memphis big man James Wiseman at No. 3 and North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony at No. 4. American guard R.J. Hampton, who, like Ball is playing in Australia’s NBL, is projected at No. 5.

Many Knicks fans have expressed interest on social media in the 6-foot-3 Anthony, who grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and is the son of former Knicks guard Greg Anthony. The younger Anthony is averaging 20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Tar Heels, who host undefeated Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Sunday.

The Knicks will be in need of just about everything given that much of their roster will turnover in free agency next summer. Yet an elite lead guard will certainly be near the top of their wish list.

That’s where Ball and Anthony come in.

Ball is currently averaging 17 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists while shooting 37 percent from the field for the Illawarra Hawks.

Last week Ball notched 32 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes to become the youngest player ever to notch a triple-double in the NBL.

As I reported, the Blazers, Pelicans, Nets and Raptors have reached out to executives at Spire Academy in Ohio where Ball played last season before he joined the mix for the No. 1 overall pick.

But because of his unique pathway in the basketball world, he has yet to play in a single American college or NBA game. Still, his talent is undeniable to those who have seen him.

“There are only a handful of players in the NBA who can legitimately play point guard at 6-foot-7 like Ball,” ESPN draft guru Jonathan Givony wrote. “The mastery he has displayed operating in pick-and-roll gives him the ability to control a game unlike any player in this draft class. Ball is the youngest prospect in our top 20 and still has a huge amount of room to grow — both physically and in terms of skill — giving him the highest upside of any player in the draft.

Still, some Knicks fans want no part of the Ball family or the family’s patriarch LaVar Ball, who criticized then-head coach Luke Walton when Lonzo Ball played for the Lakers.

“Sorry, but idk about going with Melo over Cole Anthony,” one fan tweeted in response to one of my Tweets on the mock draft.

“No way in the world the Nix bring in LaMelo Ball...no way!” another said.

And those Knicks fans aren’t alone.

Givony wrote that he and colleague Mike Schmitz “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.”

This much is clear: The No. 1 pick is not nearly as obvious as it was last year with Zion Williamson, and controversy will probably follow Ball all the way to the draft.

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Due to his stellar play Down Under, LaMelo Ball has been in discussion as the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NBA Draft for several months now.

In the latest ESPN.com mock draft released on Monday, the 6-foot-7 Ball is now projected to go No. 1 to the Knicks.

After blowing another fourth-quarter lead and being outscored 32-19 by the visiting Boston Celtics on Sunday at Madison Square Garden, the Knicks fell to 4-16 on the season. They are 21-81 since the start of the 2018-19 season.

The injury-plagued Warriors own the NBA’s worst record (4-17) heading into Monday’s action, while the Knicks and Hawks are both at 4-16. The three teams with the worst record all have a 14 percent chance at the top pick, and a 52.1 percent chance at a top-4 pick.

ESPN currently has Georgia shooting guard Anthony Edwards as the No. 2 pick, with Memphis big man James Wiseman at No. 3 and North Carolina point guard Cole Anthony at No. 4. American guard R.J. Hampton, who, like Ball is playing in Australia’s NBL, is projected at No. 5.

Many Knicks fans have expressed interest on social media in the 6-foot-3 Anthony, who grew up on Manhattan’s Upper West Side and is the son of former Knicks guard Greg Anthony. The younger Anthony is averaging 20.7 points, 7.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists for the Tar Heels, who host undefeated Ohio State in the Big Ten/ACC Challenge on Sunday.

The Knicks will be in need of just about everything given that much of their roster will turnover in free agency next summer. Yet an elite lead guard will certainly be near the top of their wish list.

That’s where Ball and Anthony come in.

Ball is currently averaging 17 points, 7.5 rebounds and 7.0 assists while shooting 37 percent from the field for the Illawarra Hawks.

Last week Ball notched 32 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds in 40 minutes to become the youngest player ever to notch a triple-double in the NBL.

As I reported, the Blazers, Pelicans, Nets and Raptors have reached out to executives at Spire Academy in Ohio where Ball played last season before he joined the mix for the No. 1 overall pick.

But because of his unique pathway in the basketball world, he has yet to play in a single American college or NBA game. Still, his talent is undeniable to those who have seen him.

“There are only a handful of players in the NBA who can legitimately play point guard at 6-foot-7 like Ball,” ESPN draft guru Jonathan Givony wrote. “The mastery he has displayed operating in pick-and-roll gives him the ability to control a game unlike any player in this draft class. Ball is the youngest prospect in our top 20 and still has a huge amount of room to grow — both physically and in terms of skill — giving him the highest upside of any player in the draft.

Still, some Knicks fans want no part of the Ball family or the family’s patriarch LaVar Ball, who criticized then-head coach Luke Walton when Lonzo Ball played for the Lakers.

“Sorry, but idk about going with Melo over Cole Anthony,” one fan tweeted in response to one of my Tweets on the mock draft.

“No way in the world the Nix bring in LaMelo Ball...no way!” another said.

And those Knicks fans aren’t alone.

Givony wrote that he and colleague Mike Schmitz “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.”

This much is clear: The No. 1 pick is not nearly as obvious as it was last year with Zion Williamson, and controversy will probably follow Ball all the way to the draft.

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I'm a Basketball Insider and tennis writer. A contributor to The New York Times and SportsNet New York (SNY), I am also the author of two books and an award-winning jour...