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Suns still leaning Lonzo Ball?

Per local radio personality John Gambadoro, the Phoenix Suns would still take Lonzo Ball over Markelle Fultz.

Despite growing concern with some aspects of Lonzo Ball’s floor game as well as the distractions sure to be caused by his family, rumors have it that the Phoenix Suns would still take UCLA’s Lonzo Ball over any other player in the 2017 Draft.

Per John Gambadoro on their daily Burns and Gambo Show radio yesterday, Gambo states his latest intel from inside the Suns front office say they rank Ball #1 overall on their draft board at this time.

Ball is one of the most polarizing players in the NBA in years. To some, he’s a disaster waiting to happen, full of unrealized passing potential because he can’t score or defend well enough to be a starter. To others, he’s the next coming of Steve Nash.

On the plus side, Ball promises to be fun to watch and potentially transformational for a bad team.

Ball averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds, 7.6 assists, and 1.8 steals per game on the season, gaudy numbers in their own right. When adjusted for pace, his 8.1 assists per 40 minutes ranked second among top-100 prospects in the DraftExpress database, with his 6.4 rebounds per 40 third among point guards. But Ball's impact went far beyond his own personal numbers as he almost single-handedly transformed an offense that ranked outside of the top-50 the previous season into one of, if not the, very best the country had to offer.

Source: ©DraftExpress

At 6-6” with a 6-9” wingspan, Ball will be one of the biggest point guards in the league, able to see one defenders and get the ball to the right spots on offense.

But he is most effective in the open court, accounting for 30% of his offense last year at UCLA alone. And this was transforming UCLA from terrible to very good.

The ball doesn't stick, his decision making is quick, and his creativity and vision are nothing short of elite.

Source: ©DraftExpress

So why is Ball so polarizing?

Once the game slows down into the half court, Ball talents are not as evident. He’s no threat to score as a shot-creator - his only half-court game so far being a pull-up from 30+ feet out with a sagging defender - and he’s not physical enough to create scoring opportunities at the rim among the trees in the NBA.

At best in the NBA, you can get about 20% of your offense in transition, so Ball will have to figure out how to be effective the other 80% of the time.

On defense, Ball is still quite unproven. He has good hands and length, but does not profile as a good defender which requires fighting through myriad screens and sliding left and right to cut off drives. Playing him next to Devin Booker for the next decade might bring back memories of Doug Moe’s Nuggets from the 80s and early 90s.

Most teams rank Markelle Fultz higher on their board than Ball. In fact, some teams have Ball going a few spots lower than #1 overall.

But according to Gambo, the Suns would take Ball over Fultz if they get the chance.

Of course, this could be an elaborate smoke screen, using Gambo as the smoke machine. The Suns could be posturing to get trade offers from other teams that want Ball, no matter where the lotto balls land.

We won’t find out for sure until late June. But at least tonight we find out what leverage the Suns have once the final draft order is set.

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