Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball is projected to win the Rookie of the Year award at the end of the season in a landslide. Ball, the no.2 overall pick in the 2017 Nba Draft, received 62 percent of votes from responding general managers who participated in the annual NBA GM survey.

Top Rookie of the Year candidate

Although Ball is expected to be among the top performing first year players for the 2017/18 NBA season, the overwhelming result of the GM survey came out as a huge surprise given the amount of talent present in the incoming group of rookies.

Philadelphia 76ers forward Ben Simmons, last year’s top pick, garnered 24 percent while Dallas Mavericks playmaker Dennis Smith Jr. received 7 percent.

On the other hand, Ball isn’t considered the rookie with the highest upside. For the question of which rookie will be the best player in five years, Phoenix Suns’ swingman Josh Jackson topped the category with 24 percent. Sixers’ guard and top pick Markelle Fultz and Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum both received 21 percent of the votes for second place, while Ball and Simmons got 14 percent for fourth place.

Widely considered by scouts as the most gifted passer to come out of college since Jason Kidd, Ball faces a daunting task of leading the Lakers back to relevancy after four consecutive losing seasons.

So far, the Chino Hills prodigy has lived up to expectations, bagging the Summer League MVP and putting up impressive games in training camp.

Starting Kuz

With Ball (mid-ankle sprain) and forward Brandon Ingram (contusion) likely sitting out the Lakers’ third preseason game against the Denver Nuggets, rookie forward Kyle Kuzma might get a rare opportunity to start at the small forward position.

Kuzma, the no.27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, has been on a tear through the first two preseason games, averaging 21 points on 60 percent FG shooting. As he continues to show flashes of his full potential, the more he’s becoming the steal of the draft in the eyes of NBA pundits and fans.

Lakers head coach Luke Walton has been high on Kuzma based on his performance in training camp and two preseason games. He also commended the former Utah standout for his competitive spirit, refusing to give up by spearheading a late run for the Lakers in the game against the Nuggets on Sunday.

Kuzma’s combination of outside shooting and agility at 6-foot-10 allows him to play multiple positions in Walton’s small-ball system. His ongoing development could spell trouble for Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr., who already conceded significant minutes to Kuzma in preseason.