It sure seems like coming to the NBL is going to pay off for LaMelo Ball and RJ Hampton.
ESPN’s and it sees the American pair both predicted to go in the top five next June – and Ball has risen to the projected No. 1 overall pick.
Arizona’s Josh Green has gotten off to an impressive start to his freshman year and has stayed put at the No. 16 mark, while Makur Maker has dropped and is projected as an early second-round pick (35th).
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It’s clear Ball’s huge triple-double against Cairns last week has had an impact on scouts. Charlotte general manager Mitch Kupchak for the point guard’s 32 point, 11 rebound and 13 assist game.
“That could very well end up being the single-most impressive performance by a draft prospect all season,” ESPN’s Jonathan Givony wrote.
“The fact that it came in a pro game featuring four former NBA players and a host of seasoned veterans will make it very difficult for any college basketball player to top.”
However while Givony was full of praise for Ball’s game, saying he is one of a handful of players “who can legitimately play point guard at 6-foot-7”, .
“We’ve received a significant amount of blowback from NBA teams who say that they simply don’t trust Ball enough to hand him the keys to their franchise,” he wrote.
“They worry about what all the attention around him will do to their team culture, how strong his work ethic is and whether his father, LaVar, could become a distraction.
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“Once teams really dig into the film, get more background intel and seriously start to consider the possibility of passing on the most talented player in the draft, I do think they’ll come around.”
Hampton is projected to go fifth, just behind the top tier of draft prospects – Ball, Memphis’ James Wiseman and Georgia’s Anthony Edwards.
The 18-year-old “doesn’t quite have one elite skill right now,” according to ESPN and needs to work on his defensive technique, but has room to grow and is already an explosive athlete.
Sydney’s Green’s stock has been rising with ESPN’s Mike Schmitz suggesting he has lottery potential.
“Green has NBA tools at close to 6-foot-6 with a great frame, 6-foot-10 wingspan, impressive open-court speed and explosive leaping ability,” he wrote.
“He has started to simplify his game a little bit in the half court, making quicker decisions with the ball, taking and making open 3s at a solid clip and starting to show some finesse around the rim as a finisher.”