ESPN recently started their summer forecast series for the NBA. In the first edition, they had Los Angeles Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Even though the Los Angeles Lakers are in the extremely difficult Western Conference, there is a lot of optimism surrounding the team. With a good young core, the Lakers have a clear direction and plan for the future.
One of those important building blocks for the franchise is point guard Lonzo Ball. The Lakers were able to select Ball with the second overall pick in the NBA Draft, and so far he has looked impressive.
In the Las Vegas Summer League, Ball was the best player in the tournament, as he was able to record two triple doubles. Also, he showed some elite scoring ability with a 36-point game. While we likely won’t see Ball total above 30 points too often in the regular season, he showed the ability to be a pretty good scorer.
As we head toward the regular season, Ball has already been predicted by some to be the Rookie of the Year for the 2017-18 season. As the projected starting point guard on the Lakers, Ball will likely have the opportunity to have some impressive stats for a rookie.
Recently, ESPN picked Ball as their Rookie of the Year in their summer forecast. Here’s what they had to say.
Though his electric play in summer league certainly played a role in shaping our expectations as he averaged 16.3 points, 9.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds, perhaps the biggest reason Ball enters as a Rookie of the Year favorite is simply opportunity. Luke Walton will let Ball play through his mistakes and he will have the ball in his hands a ton.
With Ball as one of the top talents in this class, there are a lot of talented rookies that he would have to beat out for the award. In second place came Dallas Mavericks point guard Dennis Smith. Like Ball, Smith will be one of the focal points on a Mavericks team that likely won’t be reaching the postseason. Also, Smith looked extremely impressive in the Summer League as well, as his athleticism was on full display.
Rounding out third and fourth place was a pair of rookies from the Philadelphia 76ers. Since Ben Simmons missed his entire rookie season last year, he will be eligible to win the award this season. Coming in fourth was the No.1 overall pick in the draft, Markelle Fultz. We sadly didn’t get to see a lot of Fultz in the Summer League, as he was injured early on.
With a great rookie class, the battle for Rookie of the Year will certainly be a fun one to watch. For the Lakers, they are hoping that it will be Ball walking away with the honors.