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LaMelo Ball Says He Was ‘Born’ to Be No. 1 Pick, Talks D’Angelo Russell Fit

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FILE - In this Nov. 17, 2019, file photo, LaMelo Ball of the Illawarra Hawks carries the ball up during their game against the Sydney Kings in the Australian Basketball League in Sydney. The point guard from California who bypassed college and played overseas is expected to be one of the top picks when the twice-delayed NBA draft is held in November.  (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft, File)

Rick Rycroft/Associated Press

LaMelo Ball sounds like a man confident he’ll go No. 1 overall in Wednesday’s NBA draft. 

“I feel like I’m born for this whole thing going on,” Ball told reporters on a Zoom call Tuesday.

When asked a different question, about a meeting with the New York Knicks, Ball rerouted the conversation to talk about his “great” fit with Timberwolves guard D’Angelo Russell.

It’s unclear if Ball’s confidence is hinting at something the public does not know. Most expert mock drafts have settled on Anthony Edwards as the top overall selection, though this draft is in a state of flux as teams explore trade opportunities.

It’s unclear if Ball’s confidence is hinting at something the public does not know. Most expert mock drafts have settled on Anthony Edwards as the top overall selection, though this draft is in a state of flux as teams explore trade opportunities.

Ball is perhaps the most polarizing prospect in this class, thanks in large part to his circuitous route to the NBA and years in the spotlight. The brother of New Orleans Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, LaMelo first made waves on the national scene for putting up wild numbers while putting up even wilder shots at the prep level.

A worldwide basketball odyssey soon followed, taking Ball from Lithuania, to Ohio’s Spire Academy, to Australia and then back stateside leading up to the NBA draft. During this stretch, Ball morphed from a player most viewed as an overrated commodity to one of the most sought-after prospects of the 2020 class. Even though he was initially known as a scorer, Ball’s rise came via his transcendence as a passer.

Ball is expected to go off the board somewhere in the top five of Wednesday’s draft, almost certainly among the first three picks. His fit with Russell in Minnesota would be a bit awkward—especially on defense, where they would comprise the worst defensive backcourt in the NBA—but his ceiling is higher than any other player’s in this class. 

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