Lonzo’s Summer League overshadows Fultz and Simmons going into 2017-18

By Tom Long, Sports Talk Philly staff

ESPN ran a headline earlier today titled "Who will challenge Ball for Rookie of the Year?" This headline quickly brought to my attention the massive injustice being done to Sixers' rookies Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons. Why is Lonzo the favorite? And why, in particular, by such a large margin?

First off, I do think Ball is the favorite to win Rookie of the Year. He is on a Los Angeles Lakers team that will desperately use his scoring ability to compete in games. Also, the Lakers only objective is to work around Ball's talents and skills. This will most likely be enough to solidify him as the favorite. This, compared to the upcoming balancing act of the Sixers "big 3." This will require much more tedious practice resulting in, at times, a loss of productivity on the court. 

With all this hype revolving around the Lakers, Lonzo Ball, and of course Lavar Ball, are Fultz and Simmons being overshadowed and under valued?

Ball's summer league performance was outstanding, providing the team with scoring and the ability to keep the Lakers competing at a high level. Heck, he helped the team win the Championship, along with being named the Summer League MVP. Ball posted averages of 16 points, 8 rebounds, and 9 assists in his 6 Summer League games. Ball also was able to silent his most popular critics, claiming that he is only proficient at scoring, but can't pass, rebound, or play defense. We saw behind the back passes, alley-oops, and an incredible level of court vision – a skill often talked about as being unlearnable, just a natural talent.

All this, while Markelle Fultz struggled, began to play well, then sprained his ankle and missed the remainder of the games. Ben Simmons was sidelined due to a foot injury, lingering for an entire season already. 

Already, Ball's performance undoubtedly overshadows Fultz and Simmons.

And yet, I still believe Lonzo Ball's hype is unfairly overshadowing the Sixers potential stars. Fultz and Simmons should have extremely productive seasons. Further, the Sixers should win more games than the Lakers. What effect does that have on overall value and, in particular, ROY considerations?

Lonzo Ball can be a stat stuffing machine, but if he can't find a way to win more than 15 games, I don't think it even matters.

I mean, Fultz was the first overall pick, but somehow Ball has created more hype heading into the season. And, to be clear, yes, the Sixers could've drafted Ball, technically. I'm glad they didn't, readers are probably glad they didn't. 

Ball's hype and attention may be overshadowing the Sixers on a national, general level, however I believe true basketball fans will acknowledge the potential of Fultz, Simmons, and the rest of the young team. While, at the same time, appreciating Ball's ability and talent, contemplating how good Ball can really be this year.



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