Fortune smiled upon the Los Angeles Lakers when they landed the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft and used it to select Lonzo Ball out of UCLA. A born-and-raised Southern California kid, the hope is that Ball’s infectious brand of passing will help lead the Lakers back into the playoffs.
As a standout at Chino Hills High School and UCLA, Ball manages to take over games by finding open shooters in the right place at the right time. In the Las Vegas Summer League, he frequently found teammates for easy layups on long, football-style outlet passes that were weighted perfectly. Thanks to his passing skills, teammates are eager to run the floor when the ball is in his hands.
His impressive Summer League was capped with an MVP award and a championship for the Lakers, which fans hope is an indication of things to come.
Ball isn’t content with his accomplishments, though, and told ESPN Los Angeles that he wants to win the Rookie of the Year award next season:
Individual Goal for @ZO2_
"Rookie of the Year."
— ESPNLosAngeles (@ESPNLosAngeles) September 8, 2017
In order to bring home the hardware, Ball is going to have to out-perform some stiff competition. The Philadelphia 76ers alone have two players who could give him a run for his money in Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons, while Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum impressed during the summer as well.
Josh Jackson of the Phoenix Suns and De’Aaron Fox of the Sacramento Kings could also throw their hats in the ring, and Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith Jr. will have every opportunity to prove that he was the steal of the draft.
That said, Ball isn’t one to shy away from a challenge. If he can get the Lakers offense humming and make his teammates better, he just may accomplish his goal of winning Rookie of the Year.