Angelo Montilla | Tue 11/07/2017 - 07:27 EDT

Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons Predicted Battle For The 2017-18 Rookie Of the Year Award

Lonzo Ball and Ben Simmons Predicted Battle For The 2017-18 Rookie Of the Year Award
The NBA rookie of the year race is expected to be a race right to the finish during the 2017-18 season. Lonzo Ball of the Lakers and Ben Simmons of the 76ers may be the frontrunners, but a new crop of talented rookies will also be in contention. We break down the top candidates.

2017-18 Rookie of the Year Award Odds

Two of the NBA’s brightest stars are ready to battle it out for the rookie of the year award in 2018. Lonzo Ball is being dubbed the future of the Los Angeles Lakers even before his debut NBA season. Ben Simmons — a year removed from being selected as the No. 1 pick by the Philadelphia 76ers — is eager to return from a season-ending foot injury.

Lonzo Ball +300 Ben Simmons +300
Dennis Smith +500 Markelle Fultz +550
De’Aaron Fox +700 Malik Monk +900
Josh Jackson +1200 Jayson Tatum +1600
Jonathan Issac +2500 Justin Jackson +3300
Lauri Markkanen +3300 John Collins +5000

Several online sportsbooks, including Bovada.lv, have released their early odds for the NBA rookie of the year with Ball and Simmons leading the pack. Ball enters the 2017-18 season with sky-high expectations going second overall this year and being praised by Lakers’s president Magic Johnson himself. The UCLA standout point guard is a +300 favorite to claim the trophy as the NBA’s top rookie. However, not to be outdone, Simmons is also pegged as a +300 to win the rookie of the year according to Bovada oddsmakers.

Lonzo Ball (Lakers)

There was nothing but elation on Magic Johnson’s face when Lonzo Ball fell to No. 2 in the 2017 NBA Draft. Desperately seeking a play-making point guard who can put up points, the addition of Ball is expected to propel the Lakers out of the bottom of the Western Conference and back into playoff contention.

Ball helped the UCLA Bruins rebound from a miserable 2016 campaign — leading the nation in assists while transforming the team into the top scoring offense in the country.

Ball completed his only college season averaging 14.6 points, 7.6 assists and 6 rebounds per game. Ball also became the first player in the Pacific-12 Conference since California’s Jason Kidd to average at least 14 points, seven assists and six rebounds throughout the season. Ball’s 274 total assists put him ahead of Kidd for second most in a season by a Pac-12 player, sitting behind Ahlon Lewis (294).

Ball will fit right in when stepping on the court for the first time with the Lakers, who boast one of the most promising young lineups in the NBA. The fact the Lakers are willing to throw Ball right into the fire with a more prominent role only strengthens his chances of winning rookie of the year honors.

Ben Simmons (76ers)

Everything that could have possibly gone wrong for the Philadelphia 76ers in 2016 went terribly wrong — including the loss of No. 1 pick Ben Simmons, who many are picking to win rookie of the year in 2017. Simmons missed the entire 2016-17 campaign after breaking his foot.

Much like Ball, Simmons played just one year of college basketball with LSU before declaring himself eligible for the 2016 NBA Draft. The 76ers did not waste any time taking the guard, who averaged 19.2 points, 11.8 rebounds and 4.8 assists per game as a power forward in the NCAA. While it’s likely Simmons will play point guard, he recently told Bleacher Report, “I think you can move me anywhere,” which makes the rookie even more versatile.

Simmons will be surrounded by other talented pieces, including 2017 No. 1 overall pick Markelle Fultz — another strong candidate for rookie of the year. As a +300 favorite, it’s a strong bet to put your money on Simmons to win the award if he can stay healthy.

2017/18 Rookie of the Year Picks

Along with Ball and Simmons, this year’s class of NBA freshmen is sure to make the race for rookie of the year that more competitive.

While the Dallas Mavericks are watching Dirk Nowitzki wind down an illustrious career, the club will get to witness a new one blossom in Dennis Smith — a ninth overall pick by the team in the 2017 Draft. In his lone season with NC State, the power forward averaged 18.1 points, 4.6 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. Bovada is pegging Smith as a +500 favorite behind Ball and Simmons to win rookie of the year.

Fultz, who will play alongside Simmons in Philly, is another strong rookie of the year candidate at +550. The top pick in 2017, Fultz is a crafty point guard and precise three-point threat. The former Washington Huskies point guard is coming off a 2016 campaign in which he averaged 23.2 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. While Simmons will be the clear-cut favorite to win rookie of the year, Fultz will certainly give his teammate a run for his money.

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