According to the men responsible for drafting rookies, Lonzo Ball is the clear frontrunner for Rookie of the Year.
In the annual NBA GM survey, 62 percent of responding general managers predicted that Ball will take home the prize for the league’s top first-year player.
It was an overwhelming margin for the First Team All-American and Summer League MVP, who had a considerable gap ahead of second-place Ben Simmons (24 percent) and third-place Dennis Smith Jr. (7).
However, responses were much more spread out for the question of which rookie will be the best player in five years.
Ball tied with Simmons for fourth at 14 percent. Josh Jackson (24) led the category, while Markelle Fultz and Jayson Tatum (21) tied for second.
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Ball’s fellow rookie Laker, Kyle Kuzma, has also caught the attention of the league’s GMs.
After averaging 21.9 points at Summer League, Kuzma — the 27th draft pick — drew 22 percent of the vote in the category for biggest steal in the draft. Only ninth-pick Dennis Smith Jr. (37) placed higher.
The Lakers received some more responses across the survey. They were among the “also receiving votes” for the following categories.
Most improved team: Lakers
Most likely to have a breakout season: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Brandon Ingram
Most underrated player acquisition: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Biggest steal of the draft: Josh Hart
Best assistant coach: Brian Shaw