Latest posts by Sam Amico (see all)
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It’s never too soon to start thinking about next year. No, not this year, which begins when the Cavaliers tip off training camp Tuesday.
We’re talking about June 2020 — when LaMelo Ball is eligible for the draft. If you follow basketball, you know all about Ball. You may even know him if you don’t. He is the younger brother of point guard Lonzo Ball, formerly of the Los Angeles Lakers and now of the New Orleans Pelicans.
They are also the sons of LaVar Ball, who has seemingly annoyed many on the way to turning his sons (and soft of himself) into a new brand of basketball celebrities.
But back to the Cavs.
Assistant general manager Mike Gansey recently flew overseas to scout LaMelo, who’s playing professionally in Australia. Ball wasn’t the only young prospect Gansey went to see, but Ball is undoubtedly the most hyped. He is a 6-foot-7 point guard in the truest sense, a pass-first sensation who can also score.
How good can LaMelo be?
Well, let’s see what Portland Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum has to say.
“He’s legit,” McCollum said on his Pull-Up podcast. “No offense to his brother, but I think LaMelo is better than Lonzo, and Zo’s a good NBA player.”
McCollum was a Cavaliers fan growing up in nearby Canton. His praise for the youngest of three Ball brothers didn’t end there.
“I think offensively he has a lot of tools,” McCollum said of LaMelo. “He’s good in pick ‘n’ roll, he’s got pace. He has size and can finish around the basket. He can make floaters from out to 15 feet.”
“I think his dad was right — and I wouldn’t say that very often about things his dad says — but in this case I think LaMelo is going to be the best f all three brothers,” McCollum added. “I think his offensive versatility is going to translate to the NBA, and I think he’s going to have a long career in the NBA.”
So what does any of this have to do with Gansey and the Cavs?
OK, let’s be honest. Not many people are expecting much from the Cavs this season. They finished 19-63 last year and added three rookies and a new coach. While general manager Koby Altman is excited about Darius Garland, Dylan Windler, Kevin Porter Jr. and coach John Beilein, Altman is smart enough to know that lots of newness tends to mean lots of losing. Not always, but usually.
So you can never be too focused on two or three years down the road.
Honestly, though, the Cavs could be championship contenders and Altman, Gansey and the scouting department would still travel far and wide in search of talent. That’s just their job.
And Gansey isn’t the only member of the Cavs’ front office familiar with Ball — as Ball spent last season playing for SPIRE Institute in Geneva, about an hour east of Cleveland.
Overall, Gansey liked what he saw in Ball, and supposedly he liked it quite a bit. He’s not alone, as some are already calling Ball the consensus No. 1 overall pick in the next draft.
Don’t misunderstand. The Cavs are eager to see what becomes of Garland and second-year man Collin Sexton in the backcourt. They love the upside of Porter Jr. and Windler. They are thrilled that veterans such as Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson and Jordan Clarkson are back to help lead the way.
But a player such as Ball is an instant draw. As McCollum pointed out, Ball has size and skills and yes, some serious star power.
It would make sense for any team to dream about those things. And for a team like the Cavs, it’s never too early to start.