Can LiAngelo Ball make Detroit Pistons roster?

US basketball player LiAngelo Ball takes part in his first training session in Prienai, LithuaniaAFP PHOTO / Petras Malukas (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images)
US basketball player LiAngelo Ball takes part in his first training session in Prienai, LithuaniaAFP PHOTO / Petras Malukas (Photo credit should read PETRAS MALUKAS/AFP via Getty Images) /

LiAngelo Ball is attempting to become the third brother in his family to play in the NBA, as he tries out for the Detroit Pistons. How realistic are his chances?

The Detroit Pistons are a retooling team looking for young talent. If a player can show them some potential or promise for the future, they have a chance of sticking with the team.

LiAngelo Ball has a famous name, but he, like many other players, are now in NBA training camps around the country, just looking for a chance.

His older brother, Lonzo Ball, is an established player with the New Orleans Pelicans, and younger brother LaMelo was recently drafted No. 3 overall by the Charlotte Hornets.

LiAngelo Ball’s road to the NBA is going to be a lot harder. His brothers were both taken in the top three of the draft, so making a team was never a question.

However, LiAngelo, a 6-foot-5 guard/forward, has nothing being handed to him. On December 2, he signed a non-guaranteed contract with the Pistons and is part of their training camp roster.

Ball does have an Exhibit 10 clause in his contract. That means, if he did get cut by Detroit but agreed to play for their G-League team, the Grand Rapids Drive, he can get paid up to $50,000 if he stays with them for 60 days.

LiAngelo and LaMelo had spent most of the summer in Detroit working out with former Piston player Will Bynum, where he undoubtedly caught Detroit’s eye.

Ball’s road to Pistons training was a very circuitous route.

He was a freshman at UCLA when he got in trouble during a pre-season trip to China. He got suspended from the team, and dad LaVar Ball took him and LaMelo to play professionally in Lithuania.

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While LaMelo went to Australia last season to play professionally, LiAngelo started out as a practice player for the Oklahoma Blue, the G-League affiliate of the Thunder. He eventually made their roster, and played in one game before the entire league was shut down due to the pandemic.

Having one game in the G-League to playing in the NBA is a major step. One advantage LiAngelo might have is, he could be the best shooter of the trio.

With the Pistons having gotten rid of most of their shooters, there is a place for someone who can knock it down from outside.

LiAngelo was not as coveted by NBA teams as his brothers. He has been eligible to play in the NBA since 2018, and this is his first time in a training camp.

What are Ball’s chances of sticking?

The fact he is on a non-guaranteed contract will help. That means he counts little against the cap, and Detroit can cut him at any time. That way they will not owe him any additional money.

Ball is a little heavier than his brothers. He is 6-5, same height as Lonzo, but he weighs 230 pounds That means he could play small forward as well as shooting guard.

Ball is one of 20 players currently on the roster. The raw math is that an NBA team can only carry 15 players on its roster. An NBA team can also have two ‘two-way’ players. They are assigned to the G-League but can play up to 50 games for the NBA team.

Assuming (and knowing general manager Troy Weaver, it is a big assumption), there are no further moves made, Ball needs to beat out three players to get a two-way contract and five to make the Pistons.

Taking a realistic look at the roster, Ball will probably have to outplay Anthony Lamb, Dzansan Musa  and Deividas Sirvydis to make the Pistons. He must also knocks out Saben Lee and Louis King to even get a two-way contract..

According to, King and Lee have already signed two-way contracts. Of course, if either one of them looks especially good, the two-way can be converted to regular NBA contracts. Either one could also get released and be replaced.

Lamb was a standout at Vermont in college but, like Ball, he is on a non-guaranteed Exhibit 10 contract.

Musa came to Detroit via the Bruce Brown trade. He is a 6-foot-9 stringbean who plays a similar positions to Ball. He is a former first-round draft pick of the Nets, but he played a lot for their G-League team

Musa is on the books for $2 million this season, whether he makes the team or not

The Pistons traded for Sirvydis two years ago in a deal struck by current  special advisor Ed Stefanski, who gave up three-second picks for the Lithuanian. The 6-6 wing has signed a three-year, $4.2 million contract to finally come over.

So, if Ball was to make the team, the Pistons would need to release either Musa or Sirvydis and add to their dead salary cap space (already $3 million for this season for cutting Zhaire Smith and Dewayne Dedmon).

The Pistons are not particularly invested in Musa, he was just a handy salary to complete the Brown trade.

However, they are on the hook for three years of paying Sirvydis and Detroit gave up a lot of draft capital to get him. Due to his youth (20) and inexperience, it would not be surprising if Sirvydis ends up playing mostly with the Drive this season, but he still would remain officially on Detroit’s roster.

As for the two-way players, Lee was a second-round draft pick. Although many mock drafts did not have him being drafted at all, the Pistons were reportedly quite high on him and consider him to be almost their fourth first-rounder.

King was a two-way player last year. He was one of only five players who returned from last year’s roster, so general manager Troy Weaver must see something he likes in the 6-foot-9 small forward.

Breaking it down, it will a tough road for LiAngelo Ball to make the Detroit Pistons roster.

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However, all politics aside, Ball will get his chance to show he belongs beginning on Friday, when the New York Knicks come to Little Caesars Arena (Fox Sports Detroit, 97.1 FM) for the start of the exhibition season.

If Ball plays well, he can force the Pistons to make some difficult decisions.