The Los Angeles Lakers will enter this season with plenty of stories to follow and players to watch. Arguably the biggest will be rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, a potentially transcendent talent whom Magic Johnson has already labeled the face of the franchise.
Ball’s play in the Las Vegas Summer League, where he was named MVP, has only raised expectations further for the second overall pick. One of those possibilities is winning Rookie of the Year, but that will be no easy task in this loaded class.
ESPN recently started its Summer Forecast series and predicted that Ball will win Rookie of the Year:
“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.”
There is no doubt that Ball will have the opportunity with the Lakers as he will start at point guard from day one. As was pointed out, Luke Walton will allow him to play through mistakes so Ball will get major minutes immediately.
One thing that could work against Ball is simply that he doesn’t care about stats, always preferring to make the right basketball play. He could be someone whose impact on the game far outweighs his stat line and when talking about Rookie of the Year, that could hurt him, especially considering his competition.
ESPN projected Dallas Mavericks’ point guard Dennis Smith to finish second while the Sixers pair of rookies, Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz, were third and fourth respectively. Additionally Phoenix’s Josh Jackson, Boston’s Jayson Tatum, Sacramento’s De’Aaron Fox, Charlotte’s Malik Monk, and Utah’s Donovan Mitchell could all make big impacts on their respective squads.