(First posted at RealGM)
The magnificent passer led UCLA to 29 wins in 34 games, igniting an offense that ranked third in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency – according to Ken Pomeroy.
What makes the six-foot-six point guard special is his natural inclination to speed up the pace of the game and anticipate passing lanes a second ahead before they come open. UCLA ranked 12th in nation in three-pointers made and Ball was the one creating the vast majority of those looks in semi-transition or catching defenders napping in the half-court, assisting on 31.7% of the Bruins’ scores when he was on the floor.
Despite his remarkable shooting percentages (77.9% at the rim and 41% from beyond the arc), there’s skepticism regarding Ball as a scoring threat. He’s very good in transition and has proven himself able to hit deep step-back three-pointers in isolation but he’s struggled to get to the basket or the foul line against a set defense and been unwilling to take the eventual stop-and-pop pull-up jumper out of the pick-and-roll to prevent opponents from completely sagging off him in the two-man game.
Ball is considered an uneven individual defender at best but his feel for making plays in the passing lanes (2.2 steals per 40 minutes) and contributions on the glass (14.4% defensive rebounding rate) have led to him ranking second among the six rotation players who average at least 24 minutes per game in defensive rating.
Editor’s Note: Rafael Uehara is the managing editor of ‘Basketball Scouting’. More of his work can be found here or at RealGM, where he is a regular contributor. He can be followed on twitter as @rafael_uehara