The Chicago Bulls have been busy this offseason and with a few roster spots still available, there is some speculation about how those slots will be filled. Could the Bulls make another major splash by signing popular summer league player, LiAngelo Ball?
We know one or two might come in the form of the returns the team gets for the inevitable trade of Lauri Markkanen.
The Bulls might also sign a veteran big for their second unit. Almost equally as intriguing is the discussion around how the Bulls will fill the open spot for another two-way player, meaning a guy who can be a part of the the team’s G-League affiliate as well as the NBA club. Devon Dotson will be one of the Bulls’ two-way players, but a case has been made for LiAngelo Ball to be the second, granted it has mostly come from the Bulls fanbase.
Take a look at some of the tweets beginning to roll out on this subject:
Bally Sports’ Brandon Robinson said it seems “plausible.”
While we’ll get into LiAngelo’s potential on-court contributions, it would be dismissive not to mention the commercial appeal of reuniting him with his brother Lonzo Ball.
Charlotte May Not Give Another Team a Chance to Sign LiAngelo Ball
Chicago agreed to terms on a sign-and-trade deal to bring Lonzo to the Windy City minutes after the free-agent moratorium was lifted.
LiAngelo is the only one of the three Ball brothers who hasn’t made an NBA roster, and we know there is a desire for all three Ball boys to play on the same team. LiAngelo has been working hard to make this year his coming out party.
He played for the Charlotte Hornets summer league team, which is the same organization his younger brother LaMelo Ball plays for, and won Rookie of the Year with last season. LiAngelo has also worked with the Hornets’ training and coaching staff over the summer with hopes of making the team.
It appears they love him.
“Great kid. Love him,” Hornets lead assistant coach Jay Triano said of Ball via ESPN insider Jordan Schultz. “He was at the facility practicing every day for two months to play in the Summer League. Shows a ton of character. He can shoot it, great feel, knack for scoring.”
During the summer, LiAngelo showed his ability to drain shots from deep, though his last game hurt his percentages. Lonzo took to Twitter to recognize one of LiAngelo’s best summer league performances.
It is important to mention, LiAngelo’s worst summer league performance came against the Bulls, which isn’t ideal for this thread of speculation. He went cold from three-point range, missing all 5 of his attempts from distance.
He scored just 6 points and shot 3-for-13 from the field. In the five summer league games, LiAngelo averaged 9.6 points per game while connecting on 34.5% of his threes. If you take out the performance against the Bulls, Ball had connected on 41.6% from long range.
With more games, it’s easy to see him much closer to 40% from long range, which is where he would need to be to make himself a viable three-point gunner off the bench in the mold of Jared Dudley.
LiAngelo Ball is Not a Gimmick, He Has a Real NBA Skill Set
Despite being the butt of many jokes and cast aside as the weakest of the Ball boys, LiAngelo doesn’t lack confidence in himself. Even though his route to the NBA has been more circuitous than his siblings, he believes in his NBA dream.
“I know myself, I’m an NBA player,” Ball said per Andrew Greif of the Los Angeles Times. “In my head, I can play in the NBA. I can play anywhere for real. I don’t really think about how people think about me, I just do my own thing.”
Is there a chance LiAngelo’s first NBA chance could come in Chicago and not in Charlotte? It’s a longshot, but LiAngelo possesses a skill that Chicago desperately needs for its second unit, and that’s three-point shooting.
Shooters are valuable in the NBA in the pace-and-space era, but Monday night was a reminder of the biggest question Ball poses for NBA teams: If that shot isn’t falling, what else does he offer? The middle Ball brother isn’t a natural playmaker. He isn’t a plus defender like Lonzo, or a walking highlight reel like LaMelo. He isn’t the sort of player who is going to consistently get his own shot off the dribble against top perimeter defenders. Has he earned himself a two-way contract or a spot in the G League with his performance in Las Vegas? Almost assuredly. But his long-term upside will be capped until he adds another dimension to his game.
Wherever Ball lands, he’ll need to play for a team that can offer him a specialized role. As a small forward or small-ball power forward, he could be a fit with the Bulls’ second unit if Coby White and Alex Caruso are in the back court. Ball could join either Troy Brown Jr. or Marko Simonovic to help space the floor.
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