For the past few seasons, the Los Angeles Lakers have consistently found talent in the latter portions of the NBA Draft, including Jordan Clarson, Ivica Zubac, and Larry Nance Jr. However, none of those players hit the ground running the way that Kyle Kuzma has.
After being selected with the 27th overall pick, which was acquired in the trade that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov to the Brooklyn Nets, Kuzma has set out to make teams regret passing on him. It’s extremely early, but so far, it looks as though the Lakers have found the steal of the draft.
After lighting up the Las Vegas Summer League and taking home MVP honors for the championship game, Kuzma is now averaging 19.5 points per game for the Lakers in preseason while shooting 62 percent from the field. Most who watch Kuzma play his college ball at Utah are shocked at his rapidly developing shooting ability, but Kuzma told Jamieson Welsh of Believe The Hype that he knew he was a better shooter than what he had shown:
Just my work ethic. In college people said I couldn’t shoot. I knew I was a better shooter than I did in college. I really just tried to be disciplined and focussed on my work ethic and tried to dial in on certain things and that’s really opened up my entire game.
As excellent as Kuzma has been, it does have to be noted that the sample size is very small at this point, so it’s likely that Kuzma’s shooting percentage will level off eventually. Case in point, his 48 percent shooting from downtown during Summer League is down to just 30 percent so far in preseason.
However, his form is consistent and smooth and Kuzma glides around the floor effortlessly. He has a number of tools at his disposal and is undoubtedly one of the more exciting young prospects that the Lakers have found in recent years. Kuzma could even be making a push for the starting lineup in his rookie season, which would certainly be impressive.