In 2015, a trio of brothers took the basketball world by storm. Lonzo, LiAngelo, and Lamelo Ball, also known as the Ball brothers, dazzled the internet with their incredible highlight reel and domination of high school basketball. Their internet stardom had everybody interested and practically every basketball fan in the nation was excited to watch the Ball Brothers on their journey to the NBA.
The Ball brothers first gained notoriety in 2015 from their High School basketball team, Chino Hills. The 2015-2016 season for Chino Hills was a dominant one, finishing 35-0 and winning the state championship. Chino Hills was the consensus-best high school basketball team in the nation and although they had a lot of talent, the Ball brothers were the focal point.
Their dominant play earned them offers from the best college basketball schools in the nation and the oldest brother, Lonzo, elected to play at UCLA. After one good year in college, Lonzo was selected second overall in the 2017 draft by the Los Angeles Lakers, pushing the first Ball brother into the NBA.
Also in 2017, the middle brother, LiAngelo, was set to take the court for UCLA when controversy struck. LiAngelo and other teammates were caught stealing from a convenience store in China. Facing a potential year-long suspension, LiAngelo withdrew from the team.
Even though this was a hard blow to LiAngelo’s career, he quickly packed up his bags and went to Lithuania to play alongside his younger brother, LaMelo. Despite LaMelo being the more popular of the two, LiAngelo averaged better stats than LaMelo during their stint in Lithuania.
After that season, LaMelo ball signed a contract to play for Illawarra, a team in the Australian National Basketball League. Deciding not to follow his younger brother, LiAngelo declared for the NBA draft. Unfortunately, Liangelo would not be drafted and ended up playing in the G-League.
After some rocky play in the G-League, the future looked uncertain for LiAngelo and many people doubted if he would ever play in the NBA. He did sign a contract with the Detroit Pistons in late 2020 but was abruptly waived and never saw the court.
Meanwhile, LaMelo was putting up very good numbers in the NBL, the Australian national basketball league. He was quickly becoming one of the premier prospects for the 2020 NBA draft class.
LaMelo ended up being drafted 3rd overall to the Charlotte Hornets and he was an instant success. He quickly became the number one option for the Hornets, averaging about 12 points and 6 assists across his first 10 games. LaMelo finished the season averaging close to 16 points per game and winning Rookie of the Year.
Throughout the ups and downs of the past few years, LiAngelo Ball managed to have an undeniably impressive 2021 NBA summer league. He averaged 9.6 points per game on only about 17 minutes per game. He also showcased his intense defensive energy, averaging 1.6 steals per game. While many people may still doubt his skillset, he proved that he is more than capable of playing with and outperforming professionals.
There are many potential reasons why LiAngelo Ball has not made the NBA, but he blames the things he did off the court for holding him back. While this might not be the only reason, his problems in China and demeanor off the court definitely impact the way teams are viewing him. He has potential but the possibility of controversy is scaring a lot of teams away from him.
Another potential reason for his lack of attention at the NBA level is the fact that his brothers are better than him. Lonzo and LaMelo are much flashier and are more skilled players. The media comparisons between the brothers could be causing people to view LiAngelo’s skill set more negatively simply because he does not have as much upside as his brothers.
With two of the Ball brothers in the NBA now, LiAngelo is the last brother needing to make it in order to complete their journey to the NBA. Now that LiAngelo has demonstrated his skill set, it is up to the NBA General Managers to decide whether or not to give him a shot. No matter what happens, basketball fans around the world will be watching LiAngelo, curious to see if the last Ball brother will make the NBA.