The Los Angeles Lakers look to have another late first round steal on their hands in forward Kyle Kuzma, who they selected with the 27th overall pick out of Utah.
Kuzma was very impressive in the Las Vegas Summer League, ranking second in the league at 26.0 points per game while shooting 52.9 percent from the field on his way to earning Second-Team All-Summer League honors. He scored 30 points in the championship game, shooting 11-of-16 from the field and 6-of-10 from three-point range and was named the MVP of the game, leading the Lakers to their first Summer League championship.
Kuzma seems to fit the mold that the Lakers front office and coaching staff is looking for, as he is a forward that can stretch the floor and defend multiple positions, which is something that has been stressed a lot this summer within the organization.
While Kuzma’s natural position may be at power forward, the Lakers are a little stacked at that position with Julius Randle likely being the starter and Larry Nance Jr. backing him up.
In an interview with Mike Trudell for Lakers.com, Lakers Director of Scouting/Assistant General Manager Jesse Buss commented on where he sees Kuzma playing this season, and he believes his ability to defend multiple positions will allow him to play small forward:
“I’d say that he can guard multiple positions at the three and the four. He does need to get stronger. But overall I think he can be a plus defender. Offense takes care of itself (position wise).”
The Lakers starting small forward will be Brandon Ingram to begin the season, but going into training camp his backup is not decided yet as veterans Luol Deng, Corey Brewer and Kuzma will all be vying for minutes.
Kuzma’s versatility will definitely bode well for him, but it will be interesting to see if he is able to repeat his summer league performance this preseason to work his way into head coach Luke Walton’s rotation.