On Tuesday afternoon, six prospects ventured their way their way to the UCLA Health Training Center in El Segundo, California to participate in pre-draft workouts with the Los Angeles Lakers. That crop of players included former UCLA forward Thomas Welsh, Syracuse guard Tyus Battle and 2018 Atlantic 10 Player of the Year Jaylen Adams.
While those prospects all had some success in college hoops, the biggest and most well-known baller of that event was former Vytautas Prienu guard LiAngelo Ball. Initially, he planed to spend his freshman season with UCLA, but he was pulled from the school by his father after they suspended LiAngelo due to a shoplifting incident in China.
Although path to Lithuania was extremely muddy, he quickly was able to get down to work after joining the team. LiAngelo was a solid role player with Vytautas Prienu as he put up 12.6 points and 2.9 rebounds on 42% from the field and 41% from beyond the arc. That type of play allowed him to be the 2nd leading scorer on a team that limped to a 8-28 record in league play.
Despite the team’s struggles, it is pretty impressive to see a 19-year-old prospect like LiAngelo put up decent numbers in a solid European league. However, it seems like he hasn’t been able to carry that solid play over to pre-draft workouts. On the day following that workout with the Lakers, New York Times NBA insider Marc Stein tweeted this regarding Ball’s possible status with the Lakers organization.
A dribble of draft scuttle for those interested: The Lakers had LiAngelo Ball in for a well-chronicled workout this week but there is pessimism in the extreme coming out of L.A. today that the Lakers have any intentions for him … G-League or otherwise— Marc Stein (@TheSteinLine) May 30, 2018
Although that quote in itself only closes the door on the possibility of him joining the ESPN’s basketball insider Jeff Goodman followed that up with a more pessimistic report regarding the league-wide interest in LiAngelo. To put things in perspective, Goodman was in Lithuania when LiAngelo and little brother LaMelo started their pro careers back in January.
The NBA executives I have spoken to about LiAngelo Ball have all said that they don’t feel he’s talented enough to play in the G-League. https://t.co/ECv8ybnuHa— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanESPN) May 30, 2018
While it could be argued that executives could be telling little fibs to reports in an attempt to trick other NBA teams, LiAngelo was never really looked at as a legitimate NBA draft prospect, even when he was with UCLA. His overlooked nature dates back to his time in high school as he was touted as a 3-star prospect by 247Sports and ESPN.
However, its still a little surprising to see that there are apparently a few NBA executives that think LiAngelo isn’t even talented enough to make a G League roster. Again, this could be a smoke screen and some other team may just sign him after he goes undrafted. However, Goodman’s tweet does fit within the reputation that LiAngelo has maintained since he was in high school with Chino Hills.
As we move closer to the NBA Draft and beyond, LiAngelo will be an interesting prospect to track. Because in addition to the scope that comes from him being part of the controversial Ball family, he just has to prove to the world that he actually stands as an NBA prospect, a label that he’s never been able to secure in the minds of most people.
In an attempt to even make that possible, he’s going to have to work his ass off on a nightly basis to improve on the numerous flaws that he has. Will the NBA G League be a part of that journey? Possibly. However, I think its certain that the story of LiAngelo Ball will be an extremely interesting thing to watch for the foreseeable future.