The Detroit Pistons have five free agents so there will be some roster openings next season. Is the time ripe for LiAngelo Ball to return to Detroit and this time make the Pistons?
When trying to get on NBA team, any little thing can derail a player’s chances. LiAngelo Ball suffered an injury during Detroit Pistons training camp last winter, and that ended any hope of making it.
However, if he is healthy, with his skill set, LiAngelo Ball might be a perfect addition to the 2021-22 version of the Pistons.
Should LiAngelo Ball should make the Detroit Pistons next year
His brothers had a much easier road to the NBA, Lonzo Ball was the No. 2 overall pick by the Lakers in the 2017 NBA Draft (ahead of Jayson Tatum) and LaMelo Ball was taken third in the 2020 draft by Charlotte. They were automatically on their respective team’s rosters.
LiAngelo ‘Gelo’ Ball, a 6-foot-6, 230-pound combo guard/forward, has had some real bad luck in getting a real chance to make an NBA team.
An ankle injury required surgery and Ball had to sit out the start of the 2019-20 season, right when NBA teams are conducting free agent tryouts and training camp.
Ball looked to finally be getting a shot in March, 2020 when he signed with the Oklahoma City Blue team, the G-League affiliate of the Thunder. However, the COVID-19 pandemic shut down the league before Ball had a chance to play a game.
Detroit Pistons enter the picture
In the summer of 2020, Gelo and his brother LaMelo Ball spent most of their time in Detroit, training with former Piston player Will Bynum.
Gelo did enough to be offered an Exhibit 10 contract by the Pistons. That meant he was a tryout player with no guaranteed money, but on a higher level than regular guys trying out.
Having an Exhibit 10 contract meant Detroit could pay Ball up to $50,000 to play on their G-League team, the Grand Rapid Drive, rather than another team. It is a way to keep what organizations consider promising players in the fold, but who they might not a roster spot for at the moment.
Again, Ball suffered more bad luck. He injured an ankle (not the one he had surgery on) and never got a chance to play in a Pistons exhibition game.
Having 15 players with guaranteed contracts, Detroit did not have a need to wait for him. Ball was waived on December 13 by the Pistons.
COVID-19 once again affected Ball’s career arc. The G-League season did not start on time and, when it finally got going in February, it was with games only played in a Bubble in Orlando, Florida, just like the NBA had the previous summer.
The Drive, which was in its final year as the Pistons G-League affiliate, opted not to participate. That made Ball’s Exhibit 10 contract void.
Ball did sign a generic G-League contract to play in the Bubble, but nothing came of it.
Gelo’s possible path to the Pistons roster
One thing that was clear from this past season is that the Detroit Pistons will need to add some outside shooting.
Coach Dwane Casey said in his post-season press conference that, while defense is important, in today’s NBA, you have to be able to make a lot of three-pointers.
Of the three brother, LiAngelo has always been the best outside shooter (we realize this is not like being the best Curry brother, but it is something).
When he played for Prenai in the Lithuania Basketball League, back in 2018, Gelo averaged 41.5% from beyond the three-point line.
The Pistons only made 35% of their three-point attempts last season, below the league average. Two of the best three-point shooters, Wayne Ellington and Frank jackson, are free agents.
Detroit’s salary cap situation is also not ideal for next season (it improves greatly after that).
So general manager Troy Weaver could be looking for a good outside shooting guard/small forward willing to sign a one-year deal at a reasonable price.
LiAngelo Ball would be a perfect fit for that roster spot.
Ball is still only 22-years-old and is the type of high basketball IQ tplayer that Casey and Weaver like.
Detroit obviously saw something in Ball last year, or they would not have invited him to training camp. The Drive not having a season put the kibosh on getting a closer look at him in action.
Since Ball really did not have a chance to show what he can do last December, ni reason the Pistons shouldn’t bring him back for this year’s camp.
After all, everything goes with Gelo.