The Los Angeles Lakers were able to secure four draft picks during the 2017 NBA Draft, choosing Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart, and Thomas Bryant. However, there was uncertainty entering draft night on how the events would turn out and how the trade between the Lakers and Brooklyn Nets would pan out.
The Lakers acquired the 27th overall pick from the Nets, which then turned into Kuzma. The 22-year-old put on an exhibition during the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League, helping the Lakers capture the title and being named the Finals MVP. Kuzma has emerged as the potential steal of the draft, with an offensive onslaught and a certain confidence needed at the NBA level.
After examining all their choices, it seems as though the Lakers have indeed made the right selection in Kuzma. During an interview with Mike Trudell of NBA.com, current Director of Scouting and Assistant General Manager Jesse Buss discussed the selection process involving Kuzma and revealed that the Lakers had him ranked much higher than where they selected him:
Yes a significant number. Several spots. He was our highest ranked college prospect we’ve gotten outside the lottery (in the past several years). This being the deep draft that it was, you just felt like getting a top-20 pick – at least in our rankings – was going to be a rotational player no matter what. He gives us a different look in terms of what we have at that position.
Kuzma also was able to display an aggressiveness and versatility on defense, showing the potential to be able to guard multiple positions. With Ball sitting out the championship game, Kuzma dropped 30 points, on highly efficient shooting to help secure the trophy.
The Michigan native emerged from the Summer League with an average of 21.9 points per game, while shooting 51.4 percent from the field and 48.0 percent from beyond the arc. Turns out the Lakers had been scouting Kuzma since his freshman season at the University of Utah, in a similar draft process to that of Larry Nance Jr.
Kuzma has also received some love from his fellow rookies, as he was voted amongst the biggest steals and best shooters of the 2017 NBA Draft. Buss ended the interview by stating that Kuzma has been at the facility on a recurring basis, eager to work with the coaching staff and improve in lieu of training camp.