While Lonzo Ball is the favorite to win the NBA Rookie of the Year this season, his projected stat line by Bleacher Report is still not better than guys that did not make this list. Simply put, the rookies of today are protected far more than the rookies of the past, much like the case with Kobe Bryant.
Ball will not get thrown into the wolves like rookies before him would. While he likely will have the most minutes by a rookie in quite some time, the talent gap between today’s rookies and the rookies of the past is far greater. Hence why the likes of Magic Johnson and Jerry West could have better rookie years and not win the award. However, the gap between Lonzo and number three is very small.
Plus, there was some misfortune in the cases of West and Johnson. In West’s rookie season, point guard Oscar Robertson took home the award. Roberston is considered to be one of the greatest point guards of all-time and was the triple-double king up until Russell Westbrook broke his triple-double record.
Then, for Johson, he had to compete with another all-time great in Larry Bird. With Lonzo, the competition is much smaller as these guys will be far more protected. Granted, somebody from this draft class will likely turn into a huge superstar later on, but in year one, Ball is going to get the most playing time and be head and shoulders above the rest.
So, while a stat line like Ball’s will be good enough to win the award this year, it is still not good enough to surpass some of the greatest to ever do it for the Lakers.