As the NBA has continued to transition in play style over the years, the point guard position has become the most prominent, strength across the league. That strength grew even stronger in numbers with the 2017 draft class, led by names such as Lonzo Ball and Dennis Smith Jr.
The two lottery picks have come in and had an immediate impact on their respective teams. Dennis was brought in to Dallas to help lead a new youth movement as the team rebuilds. For the Lakers, the rebuild has already begun and Lonzo joins an abundance of young players to kick start a new championship era in Los Angeles.
Smith Jr. ranks 4th amongst the rookies (3rd if you dismiss Ben Simmons) in scoring with 15.2 points per game, along with 3.8 rebounds and 4.9 assists. Lonzo Ball averages 10.2 points, 7.0 rebounds, and 7.3 assists in 51 games this season.
In the first three match-ups, the Lakers have come out on top in two of the three games, though Lonzo missed the game in which the Mavericks won. DSJ may have out played Lonzo in their previous match-ups but Julius Randle has been the name to watch as he has averaged 22.3 points and 12 rebounds against his hometown team this season.
For both teams tonight, their veteran back-up point guards will miss the game which means we might see more from the rookies. J.J. Barea stayed in Dallas for personal reasons during the two-game road trip while Isaiah Thomas will go under season-ending arthroscopic hip surgery.
With each franchise in rebuilding mode, it will be intriguing to see Smith Jr. and Ball grow as professionals with the spotlight on them. And though the Lakers may have gotten the better of Dallas so far this season in their match-ups and overall record, time will tell over the years which team drafted the better point guard with four meetings between the two rookies every season for what we hope is a long time.
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