Let’s have a Ball: OKC Thunder interview LiAngelo Ball

PRIENAI, LITHUANIA - JANUARY 09: LiAngelo Ball of Vytautas Prienai prior to the match between Vytautas Prienai and Zalgiris Kauno on January 9, 2018 in Prienai, Lithuania. (Photo by Alius Koroliovas/Getty Images)
PRIENAI, LITHUANIA - JANUARY 09: LiAngelo Ball of Vytautas Prienai prior to the match between Vytautas Prienai and Zalgiris Kauno on January 9, 2018 in Prienai, Lithuania. (Photo by Alius Koroliovas/Getty Images) /

Does LiAngelo Ball fit with the Oklahoma City Thunder?

The NBA Draft is right around the corner, and teams have started doing their due diligence on players ahead of draft night. To that end, the Oklahoma City Thunder were one of the teams that interviewed LiAngelo Ball.

On Wednesday, May 23rd LiAngelo Ball participated in the Professional Basketball Combine at the IMG Academy. According to Alex Kennedy of Hoops Hype, LiAngelo Ball interviewed with the Oklahoma City Thunder, and Phoenix Suns.

The Thunder hold picks 53, and 57 overall. LiAngelo Ball, despite having the hype around him thanks to his father LaVar Ball, would be available in that range.

Who is LiAngelo Ball?

LiAngelo Ball is a 19 year old wing. He stands 6’5, and weighs 215 pounds. He started the year at UCLA, before getting into some trouble overseas. After a shoplifting incident in China, LaVar Ball pulled his son out of the school.

LiAngelo Ball was off to Lithuania to play professional basketball. This is not that uncommon, as Thunder shooting guard Terrance Ferguson also skipped out on college ball, deciding to play professionally in Australia. Ferguson was drafted by the Oklahoma City Thunder with the 21st pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

LiAngelo Ball’s team finished in last place in the LKL. Ball played in 12 games, with 8 starts. He averaged 12-points, and 2-rebounds. LiAngelo Ball shot 42-percent from the field, and 41-percent from behind the arc.

Is Sam Presti a big baller?

The Oklahoma City Thunder need depth, and versatile depth at that. LiAngelo Ball can play the two, and the three. His shooting ability would be the biggest appeal for Oklahoma City. The Thunder lack shooters, and really, that is all LiAngelo Ball provides.

Ball struggles with switching defensive, which is where he would stumble in OKC, as the Thunder switch on everything. With his upside shooting the basketball, and the ability to get him at such a low cost would it be worth it to give LiAngelo a shot? Maybe.

It is very hard to get upset about a pick in the 50’s. Either it works out, or it doesn’t. There is no penalty for missing on a second round pick. That is, with most second round picks.

Why Is LiAngelo Ball different?

LiAngelo Ball’s father, and brand (the Big Baller Brand) are built on being loud. LaVar Ball has spent his time making outlandish statements to get his brand in the news. It works. However, this past season he might have crossed the line. The oldest Ball, Lonzo Ball was the second pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. Playing for the Lakers, under coach Luke Walton, LaVar Ball took a jab at the Lakers head man.

In an ESPN exclusive interview Lavar attacked Luke Walton. From Jeff Goodman’s article:

"More from Thunderous IntentionsStealing one player from every Southwest Division team for the OKC ThunderShould the OKC Thunder chase after a disgruntled hometown hero?3 OKC Thunder players who can step up in Aleksej Pokusevski’s absenceAleksej Pokusevski sidelined approximately 6 weeks with ankle injuryDamian Lillard does not fit with the OKC Thunder“You can see they’re not playing for Luke no more,” Ball said from a spa resort in Birstonas, where he is staying while his two youngest sons, LiAngelo and LaMelo, get ready to make their professional debuts with Lithuanian team Prienu Vytautas. “Luke doesn’t have control of the team no more. They don’t want to play for him.”“That’s a good team,” he added of the Lakers, who have lost nine straight games. “Nobody wants to play for him. I can see it. No high-fives when they come out of the game. People don’t know why they’re in the game. He’s too young. He’s too young. … He ain’t connecting with them anymore. You can look at every player, he’s not connecting with not one player.”"

Why it won’t work:

LiAngelo Ball is not pro-ready. He will not receive many minutes early in his career, and will likely spend time in the G-League as he tries to refine his skills. Would LaVar Ball be able to bite his tongue while his son plays in the Cox convention center for the OKC Blue? Thunder Head Coach Billy Donovan is already a punching bag for most, what will stop LaVar from throwing his right hook?

Unless Carmelo Anthony is bought out, or somehow traded, can OKC really afford another big personality in the locker room?

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Oklahoma City is likely just doing their due diligence and will not actually pursue LiAngelo Ball. That is the right move.