OAKLAND — Controversial forward LiAngelo Ball was one of six NBA Draft prospects to work out for the Golden State Warriors on Friday at the team’s Rakuten Performance Center practice facility in downtown Oakland.
After going through a workout with his brother Lonzo’s Los Angeles Lakers earlier this month, Ball went through testing and on-court work alongside Bucknell center Nana Foulland, West Virginia guard Daxter Miles Jr., Illinois-Chicago center Tai Odiase, Baylor forward Nuni Omot and Michigan forward Duncan Robinson.
“It was more shooting, I guess, and coming off of screens,” Ball said. “The Lakers were more one-on-one, two-on-two. We got into that quicker.”
Given the Warriors’ organizational values, Ball and his family seem an odd fit for either Golden State’s No. 28 overall pick, or as a free agent signee headed to the G-League.
He was suspended by UCLA before his freshman season even began for allegedly stealing sunglasses during the team’s trip to China. During the ensuing international incident, his father LaVar set up a pop-up shop for his Big Baller Brand in Shanghai, while filming the family’s Facebook show, “Ball in the Family.”
After LiAngelo returned from China, he withdrew from UCLA on Dec. 4, 2017, at his father’s behest. LaVar pulled younger brother LaMelo out of Chino Hills High School, and took both LiAngelo and LaMelo to Lithuania to play for semi-pro Vytautas Prienu. LaVar proclaimed that both would be lottery picks like oldest brother Lonzo, whose pickup by the Los Angeles Lakers LaVar “spoke into existence.”
“That’s a closed chapter in my book,” LiAngelo said of China and UCLA.”I don’t get too much slack on that, so I’m just looking forward to the draft. I just keep moving forward.”
In terms of his attention-grabbing father, LiAngelo said he hasn’t gotten any questions from teams about him.
“Like I tell everybody — that’s him,” LiAngelo said. “If you want to talk to him about what he says, you could. It don’t really bother me. I’m my own man … It depends what they ask me. If they ask [if] what he says bothers me, I’m going to say no, because it doesn’t. He’s going to say what he wants, I’m going to do what I do.”
LaVar did not accompany LiAngelo to his workout in Oakland.
Both general manager Bob Myers and head coach Steve Kerr have stated the organization’s desire to go younger in 2018-19, and that whoever they take with the No. 28 pick would have to be able to play right away.
Had he stayed in school, the 6-foot-5, 230-pound LiAngelo was projected to come off the bench for the Bruins, whose best player — Aaron Holiday — is projected to go late in the first round.
“Going overseas helped more, in my opinion,” he said. “In college, I never would get the type of play time I thought I would get. When I went overseas, I was able to develop better.”
LiAngelo, 19, played an average of 21.2 minutes per game in 14 official games for Vytautas, and averaged 12.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 0.9 assists, shooting 43.8 percent from inside the three-point line, but 41.5 percent outside the arc. LiAngelo said that had he stayed in school, he wouldn’t be where he’s at right now.
“It helped me a lot, going over there and playing against grown men that care about the game,” Ball said. “Little techniques, like coming off screens, knocking down shots, it helped me, coming back here.”
Golden State will likely pick a wing, as the roster was stacked with six centers this season, with at least two of them — likely David West and Kevon Looney — likely headed elsewhere, be that retirement (West) or another team (Looney). USA Today has the Warriors taking Creighton guard Khyri Thomas. HoopsHype and NBADraft.net have them taking Duke shooting guard Gary Trent, Jr., CBS has them taking Cincinnati small forward Jacob Evans III, and Sports Illustrated has Golden State picking Josh Okogie, the sophomore shooting guard out of Georgia.
“I don’t know about what teams are looking at me right now, but I’m looking forward to the draft and seeing what lies ahead of me,” Ball said.
If he goes undrafted — which is likely — LiAngelo said he has no problem going to the G-League or signing in free agency, or trying to make a team by playing in any of the three summer leagues.
“I feel pretty good going into the draft; I feel like I’m going to get drafted,” LiAngelo said. “I feel like I could produce for a team. If I don’t, then it’s going to be G-League, summer league team, something like that. If they pick me up to go on a summer league team, I’m going to produce and play my hardest.”
The Warriors are slated to have at least two more draft workouts between now and the NBA Draft on June 21 at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn, NY.