Should you invest in OKC Thunder rumored LaMelo Ball interest?

OKC Thunder - LaMelo rumors: Injured Hawks player Lamelo Ball is seen on court after the round 15 NBL match between the Illawarra Hawks and the Perth Wildcats. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images)
OKC Thunder - LaMelo rumors: Injured Hawks player Lamelo Ball is seen on court after the round 15 NBL match between the Illawarra Hawks and the Perth Wildcats. (Photo by Mark Kolbe/Getty Images) /

The week begins with news the OKC Thunder might want to trade up to nab LaMelo Ball in the draft. But how much can you invest in these rumors?

As the NBA Draft draws near the whispers, innuendo and rumors are flying. Expect lots more to occur before next Wednesday as teams, agents and everyone involved tries to shift the narrative the way they want. With the 25th pick, the OKC Thunder had avoided most of the banter but were thrown into the mix as one of three teams eager to move up in order to nab a top draft pick — namely LaMelo Ball.

It just so happens this comes on the heels of news that many clubs holding those top picks aren’t as keen to draft the youngest Ball brother. On the Mismatch podcast, Kevin O’Connor of The Ringer told Chris Vernon he was having conversations that Ball could fall out of the top five and even as low as eighth.

That sentiment gained relevance when Rick Bonnell of the Charlotte Observer confirmed in a radio interview on 102.5 WFNZ FM that Ball wasn’t performing well in his job interviews. That is a believable statement as TI noted how uninterested and uninvested LaMelo seemed in his zoom media interview.

Don’t invest in the OKC Thunder – LaMelo Ball rumors

For months Anthony Edwards and LaMelo Ball have consistently placed in the top three of virtually every mock draft with James Wiseman usually the third name in the mix. Even with this trio typically taking the top three mock draft placements, each of them has undergone criticism and questions of whether they should be ranked that high.

In fairness, this class doesn’t have a definitive number one or obvious generational talent in the mix, nor has the pandemic helped matters because the typical Draft Combine couldn’t occur.

So this revelation of LaMelo dropping down the ladder sparked a lot of chatter.  Likewise, the news yesterday that teams were fighting to buy up to nab LaMelo also generated debate.

The three teams said to be in the mix per ESPN (and noted in  Andrew Schlecht’s tweet) were the Chicago Bulls, Detroit Pistons, and the OKC Thunder.

To make the leap that the OKC Thunder would want to do this several factors have to be assumed as truths. One of the teams with picks in the top five would have to be interested in assets or picks from the Thunder. If we assume Ball is going in the top three that would mean one of the Wolves, Warriors, or Hornets.  Is that a logical assumption? Maybe.

While the services of Chris Paul will be highly coveted and his hometown is Charlotte he will be desirous of landing with a competitive team. And, Sam Presti isn’t about to ship CP3 to a team who aren’t ready to win now — it’s just not who he is as an executive.

The other very real roadblock to this being logical is a backcourt of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and LaMelo. Although SGA primarily played off the ball this past season there was a big difference in doing that with a veteran like CP3 who could still navigate each game making sure Shai got to run the offense and contribute as a playmaker. Pairing him with Ball would most assuredly mean SGA would be off the ball 100 percent of the time.

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Moreover, for those who might suggest Sam Presti would be more committed to LaMelo than he is to SGA is ludicrous. That would mean he’s willing to give up on a cornerstone talent for a prospect who hasn’t shown the propensity to be a superstar or one who’ll be able to hit from range.

Nor would Presti be wise to give up draft picks for the next two years which unlike this year are expected to have several talents and potentially generational franchise shifting stars like Cade Cunningham.

So what is to be made of these rumors? From my perspective, it’s more likely this story is being created by someone with a vested interest or something to gain. Digging in that could be one of the teams that has a top pick and wants to flip it for an existing opponent’s asset.

A more obvious and logical assumption would tie this to LaMelo Ball and his team. Could this be his agent perchance planting these seeds? Or perhaps the agent and a GM from one of the teams selecting in the top three positions are working in conjunction to try to get what both sides are desirous of.

Next. LaMelo Ball draft profile. dark