The Los Angeles Lakers new front office, led by president of basketball operations Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka did a solid job of acquiring late first round picks before the deep 2017 NBA draft, and they ultimately used those picks to select two guys who went to college for four years, Kyle Kuzma out of Utah and Josh Hart from Villanova.
Because of their age and maturity the Lakers are hopeful that both players can come in and make an impact right away, as opposed to some of the one-and-done guys in the draft who may need some more development before contributing at the NBA level.
Kuzma in particular demonstrated what he is capable of in the NBA Summer League, earning All-Summer League Second Team honors, in addition to being named the MVP of the championship game.
In a recent interview on NBA TV, Pelinka commented on his expectations for Kuzma this season, who they are very high on due to his versatility:
“I think Kyle Kuzma becomes a posterchild, in a sense of just representing that game of a player that can do everything and is positionless […] He just had a spirit in his step, just an aggressiveness and a chip on his shoulder. He plays in attack mode at all times, I think we saw that in Summer League so we’re really, really excited about him.”
Unlike Kuzma, Hart was not able to showcase his full potential in Las Vegas, as he was limited to just two games due to an ankle injury, but Pelinka still has high expectations for Hart as well after leading Villanova to a National Championship in 2016:
“He may not be the most athletic player in the gym or the quickest, but he finds ways to make winning plays. He did that at Villanova for a national championship. [Villanova head coach] Jay Wright, he developed a mentality in him. Like I said this is a young, scrappy, and hungry young core that we are just really, really excited about.”
While the Lakers do not have the most talented roster in the NBA, they do have a very deep roster thanks in part to guys like Kuzma and Hart, so just like last year the Lakers could be among the league leaders in bench points.
Kuzma especially is a guy to watch out for this season, as he has already developed chemistry with rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, and he fits the mold of positionless basketball that the Lakers brass wants to play with this year.