Pistons intend to interview LaMelo Bell as top NBA draft prospect continues to train in Detroit

Detroit Free Press

Omari Sankofa II
| Detroit Free Press

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The Detroit Pistons would either need a trade or some draft night luck to pick LaMelo Ball, who is widely considered to be the best point guard prospect in this year’s class. Detroit has the seventh pick, while Ball is widely projected to go top three. 

But Ball is on the Pistons’ radar regardless. He’s been training in the area since March with his manager, Jermaine Jackson, a Detroit native and former Detroit Mercy player and assistant coach. And last week, LaMelo’s dad, Lavar, said he’d like to see his son end up in Detroit or New York. 

Pistons general manager Troy Weaver said during his pre-draft media availability on Thursday that he’s taken note of Ball’s local presence and hopes to schedule an interview with him ahead of the draft. 

[ Pistons on the move in the draft? GM Troy Weaver: ‘Everything’s on the table’ ]

“I’m always happy to hear players embrace our organization, our city,” Weaver said. “That never goes unnoticed. I know people around him, his trainer, what have you, is a Detroit native. He’s been here for a while working out. I’m sure he’s well-versed in the city, traveling around being with his trainer, hearing different things. That doesn’t go unnoticed. That’s always a positive, when prospects speak highly of the city and the organization. That’s always a positive. We do plan on trying to visit with him here before the draft.”

Ball averaged 17 points, 7.6 rebounds, 6.8 assists and 1.6 steals in Australia last season with the Illawarra Hawks. He’s considered the most creative passer in the draft, and his size (6-foot-8) sets him apart from the rest of the 2020 point guard crop. Pundits project him as a versatile guard with lead playmaking potential, though there are big question marks concerning his ability to shoot from outside and score efficiently inside. 

He spoke highly of Detroit during his virtual draft combine availability in September, after being asked if he could adopt a “hard-nosed” Detroit mentality. 

“I definitely always had that mindset, but you know how it is out here,” Ball said. “So that’s only going to help, too.” 

While the Pistons do not currently have a path to draft Ball, they could create one. Weaver acknowledged that the Pistons could move up or down in the draft, depending on what offers are on the table. Landing Ball would give the franchise a young star to build around. 

Thanks to his dad and older brother, Pelicans guard Lonzo Ball, LaMelo is the most famous player in the draft. He would give the Pistons a player with international name recognition, something the organization currently only has in Blake Griffin. 

“There’s still some interviews and workouts that we need to get to before,” Weaver said. “It’s a work in progress and we’ve been doing our work. We feel confident in our work thus far and we’ll continue to turn it over and keep grinding it out leading up to the draft.”

Contact Omari Sankofa II at osankofa@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @omarisankofa. The Free Press has started a new digital subscription model.

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