Ballard began his NBA career as a first round pick (fourth overall), out of the University of Oregon, by the Washington Bullets in the 1977 NBA Draft. He played eight seasons for the Bullets before being traded to the Golden State Warriors where he played two seasons.
For his career, he averaged 12.4 points and 6.1 rebounds in 802 total games. He had a career-high in 1981-1982 averaging 18.8 ppg. He helped lead his team to the playoffs seven times including winning an NBA Championship his rookie year with Washington under head coach Dick Motta.
Moving to Italy for the 1989-1990 campaign, Ballard became an assistant coach with Il Messagero, a team sporting former NBA stars Brian Shaw and Danny Ferry.
Ballard left an assistant coaches position with Burghy Roma to return to America and join new coach Quinn Buckner's staff in Dallas.
After his one season with Dallas, Ballard joined the Minnesota Timberwolves as an assistant coach and was with the Wolves for nine seasons. He then joined coach Mike Woodson's staff in Atlanta as an assistant in 2004-2005 and has been a part of the Hawks' organization ever since.
He was honored by his alma mater and inducted into the University of Oregon Hall of Fame.