© Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports
If you’ve followed the upcoming NBA Draft or NCAA basketball this year, you know two of the more well-known names in the purported upper echelon of prospects are James Wiseman and LaMelo Ball.
Per the San Francisco Chronicle’s Connor Letourneau, the Warriors aren’t much interested:
“According to multiple league sources The Chronicle contacted in the past few days, the Warriors — contrary to what mock drafts might suggest — aren’t believed to be high on two of the three players being mentioned as possibilities at the No. 1 pick: former Memphis center James Wiseman and point guard LaMelo Ball, who last played for the Illawarra Hawks of Australia’s National Basketball League. As one source put it, “I think they’d only take one of those two if they were trading down in the draft and taking them for another team.”
With that in mind, Wiseman and Ball aren’t included in The Chronicle’s educated-guess list of what the Warriors call their “top tier” — the group of prospects they’d consider selecting with a top-5 pick,:
Wiseman had at times been projected as the clear No. 1 candidate, but he pulled out of Memphis after just three games following a 12-game NCAA suspension over a donation from Memphis head coach Penny Hardaway.
In 2008, Hardaway donated $1 million to Memphis, before he was the coach, and later gave $11,500 to Wiseman’s family for moving expenses. The NCAA’s typically bird-brained punishment was for Wiseman to pay that exact amount to a charity of his choice. So Wiseman’s college career ended after three games in which he averaged 19.7 points (76.9 percent from field, 70.4 percent from FT line) and 10.7 rebounds per game.
The other name, Ball, well, you know his father, LaVar. He nearly derailed his oldest son, Lonzo’s career, created a faulty, scammy shoe-brand, and has been a source of concern for teams looking at LaMelo as a prospect. LaMelo Ball, after playing in Lithuania (chronicled in detail by Bleacher Report’s Mirin Fader), has spent this past season (given that he was not college-eligible) playing in Australia, for the Illawara Hawks (the current saga also described by Fader).
Like Lonzo, LaMelo is a lanky point guard at 6’7″, 181 pounds, who is praised for his defensive instincts. He’s averaged 17.0 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists, 1.6 steals and 2.5 turnovers per game in Australia’s National Basketball League over 12 games.
If those two are out, who’s in? Letourneau believes the following players are in the conversation, with Avdija the most likely:
Anthony Edwards, SG, Georgia
Deni Avdija, SF, Maccabi Tel Aviv
Isaac Okoro, SF, Auburn
Obi Toppin, PF, Dayton
Tyrese Haliburton, PG, Iowa State
Killian Hayes, PG, Ratiopharm Ulm
R.J. Hampton, SG, New Zealand Breakers