Outside of Lonzo Ball, those around the NBA and the fan base of the Los Angeles Lakers had no clue what to expect entering the 2017 NBA Draft. With Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka leading the scouting charge, the Lakers selected Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant with their remaining three picks.
The 2017 Las Vegas Summer League turned into a coming out party for Kuzma, who dominated throughout while displaying a varying skill set on the court. Kuzma demonstrated that he could shoot a high percentage from beyond the arc while also attacking the basket off the dribble and finding himself on the receiving end of many Ball assists.
Kuzma turned into a topic of discussion during the NBA’s annual rookie survey, with his name appearing on the ballot. When NBA.com asked the 39 rookies in attendance who they believe is the biggest steal of the draft, Kuzma appeared fifth on the list with 9.5 percent of the vote.
Donovan Mitchell, the 13th pick, earned the top spot with 18.9 percent after his break out performance during Summer League. Dennis Smith Jr. (13.5 percent) and John Collins (12.2 percent) followed Mitchell, while Jordan Bell appeared just ahead of Kuzma with 10.8 percent.
Kuzma was promptly named the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League Finals MVP after his performance against the Portland Trail Blazers, all while Ball was watching from the bench. He finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds while shooting 11-for-16 from the field and 6-for-10 from three-point range.
During the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League, Kuzma demonstrated his ability to stretch the floor and guard multiple positions. Since then, Kuzma has signed with Nike and figures to be a prominent part of the Lakers plans.
He will be in a battle for playing time in the loaded Lakers frontcourt however, as Julius Randle, Brook Lopez and Larry Nance Jr are sure to play a lot of minutes, while Luol Deng, Corey Brewer, and Ivica Zubac will also be looking to crack the rotation.