Nick Wright evaluates Lonzo Ball’s rookie season

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In his conversation with Cris Carter and Jenna Wolfe, Nick Wright evaluates Lonzo Ball's rookie season, detailing what he needs to do to continue to develop and have a successful career.

- There's a few things that are overwhelmingly positive for Lonzo. One is-- you mentioned the 10, seven, and seven. Like, only four rookies ever have put up the stat line Lonzo put up their rookie year. It's Oscar, it's Magic, it's Ben Simmons, it's Lonzo Ball.

Now, no one is saying he's going to be Oscar or Magic. I don't think he's going to be Ben Simmons either. But the filling of the box score, the being better than average at the non-scoring parts of the game as a rookie, that's very difficult. We see a guy like De'Aaron Fox, who I think is going to be an excellent scorer in this league one day, he may never, at his peak, be as good of a passer and rebounder as Lonzo is right now. So like, that's a big positive for him.

I'm going to say another thing that's a positive that has kind of been underrated the last month and a half, and I think a positive for him moving into year two. The dad doesn't seem as relevant anymore. Like, when's the last time-- I know, on this show, we try not to talk about LaVar-- but any of these shows. Like, the dad doesn't move the needle as much to where you almost feel forced to bring him into a Lonzo discussion.

So why am I bringing him up now? The Lakers are going to be going after major free agents this offseason. And if the level of noise from the father had stayed consistent from day one to-- now we're in game 79-- I think that could turn off some free agents. That has not been the case. And so those things work in his favor, I believe.

- I know the numbers are great and I know his line is great, and it puts him up there with elite rookies that have gone on to have incredible careers. So why does it feel like he hasn't lived up to the hype? Like, why are we even having this conversation? How do you evaluate his first-- why--

- Because this is what we do. We build kids up to tear them down. Like, there was no way, when Magic Johnson drafted him and said, he will be in the rafters one day as one of the Lakers greats, that he was going to-- there's no way, given the volume of information and noise that his family made that he was going to be able to live up to that.

- They all did him a disservice.

- Well, that's here nor there. All right? We're evaluating the player. And the kid is a good kid. The Lakers organization, they like him.

We can't control the hype. But when you look at it, what happens to rookies? You mentioned De'Aaron Fox. He was a great prospect coming in. What kind of rookie year did he have?

- It's not like-- D-Fox was taken 20 picks after him-- just a few picks later. Like, we talked about Malik Monk--

CRIS CARTER: Yes, in Charlotte.

- --another top 10 pick. We hadn't talked about Malik Monk once all year until we showed that highlight yesterday.

- He was in the G League.

- Exactly. So the fair comparison for Lonzo coming into the league was not Magic. It was always Jason Kidd. And so let's just-- if he is done with his rookie year, show them side by side, their rookie years. Jason Kidd was a slightly better scorer. They were near equivalent passers. And Lonzo is a slightly better rebounder.

Like, if he continues on the Jason Kidd trajectory, a guy who is one of the eight greatest point guards in the history of the league, everyone will say that it was a wildly successful career. Like, Lonzo did-- he didn't exceed expectations, but I don't think he failed to meet realistic expectations either. What we didn't see coming was Donovan Mitchell and then Ben Simmons, the redshirt rookie, having these monster seasons, along with Jayson Tatum.