The Los Angeles Lakers drafted hype machine Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. However, it is 27th overall pick Kyle Kuzma that is stealing the show.
Rudy Gobert, Elden Campbell, Dennis Rodman. Lakers rookie forward Kyle Kuzma joins a short list of notable names at the 27th overall selection. However, after just eight games played, Kuzma looks to be one of the most polished rookies of the 2017 NBA Draft Class and the best rookie on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Twenty-six selections passed before the Lakers selected Kyle Kuzma. Nine of those 26 selections were power forwards. Some teams passed on him twice, the Portland Trailblazers traded up five spots to select another power forward, Zach Collins. Only two rookies are averaging more points than Kuzma. Only three have a better efficiency rating.
Keep in mind Kuzma is not even a starter on the Los Angeles Lakers. The rookie power forward averages 26.8 minutes per game; his 54.3% field goal percentage is better than any other rookie in the top 15 in scoring. Per 48 minutes, Kuzma is averaging a rookie-best 26.9 points per game.
Nobody expected Kuzma to be this good. In fact, Chris Dortch of NBA.com projected Kuzma to fall to the second round. His great play in the NBA Summer League was met with doubt, his solid play in the preseason raised some eyebrows, now, it is time the league recognizes Kyle Kuzma.
The Los Angeles Lakers found a gem in Kyle Kuzma. Although fans like to point to D’Angelo Russell’s play in Brooklyn, Kuzma’s draft rights were traded to the Lakers alongside Brook Lopez for Russell and Timofey Mozgov.
Kuzma and the Los Angeles Lakers ironically are set to square off against Russell and the Nets for the first time this season. Instead of harping over Russell, fans should finally be recognizing that Kuzma is the best rookie on the Lakers; if they already haven’t.
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Love him or hate him, Lonzo Ball has been the center of attention in LA for several months. His outlandish father did a fantastic job of marketing him. Thus, Ball became one of the most talked about rookies since LeBron James.
However, Ball has not played great. The rookie is only shooting 33.3% from the field, averaging under 10 points per game. His shot has not translated to the NBA, and his playmaking ability has faltered. Against the Portland Trailblazers and Damian Lillard, Ball scored zero points with four assists and three rebounds.
Meanwhile, Kuzma was showcasing the kind of confidence that has been lacking in Ball. Kuzma was slashing to the basket, drawing contact and making big shots. The forward has proven to be more than just a stretch for and has turned into one of the most consistent scoring options on the Lakers.
Kuzma just looks far more poised than a rookie that was selected with the 27th overall pick. He is the definition of a steal. Now, we can confidentially say that he is the best rookie on the Los Angeles Lakers.
Is that a bad thing? Absolutely not. The Los Angeles Lakers are more than happy to get such a talented forward out of the 27th overall pick.
It would just be nice if Lonzo Ball could do the same.