Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball is already one of the most heavily hyped rookies to enter the NBA in a long time, and he keeps racking up more and more accolades. ESPN is the latest to pump up Ball, with its panel of experts overwhelmingly voting him as the most likely winner of the 2018 rookie of the year award.
ESPN polled its panel, “with a first-place vote receiving five points, a second-place vote receiving three and a third-place vote receiving one.” Ball finished first with 140 points, nearly equal the total points of the next two finishers, Dennis Smith, Jr. (86) and Ben Simmons (62). Markelle Fultz rounded out the top four with 60 points.
Ball has thus far lived up to all the hype he’s received, overcoming a rocky Las Vegas Summer League debut to win MVP of the event with averages of 16.3 points, 7.7 rebounds and a tournament-leading 9.3 assists.
Still, while Ball has overwhelmingly succeeded at every level of basketball he’s played so far, there is no guarantee his run will continue immediately in the NBA. Ball projects to be a very good to exceptional NBA player, but success in the league often takes time for young players, doubly so for many young point guards. Ball will face growing pains at some point, and how quickly he makes adjustments will be one of the biggest things to watch for during his first season.
ESPN obviously thinks Ball will make those adjustments fairly quickly and win the award, which given how well he’s done at every prior stop on his basketball journey seems like a safe enough assumption. We’ll see if they’re right.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.