Lakers’ Newest Product Kyle Kuzma Came Out of Nowhere

Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Lakers’ Newest Product Kyle Kuzma Came Out of Nowhere

 

Shining behind the overwhelming media attention of Los Angeles Lakers No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball in the 2017 NBA Summer League was an unlikely hero.

When the Lakers agreed to trade 21-year-old point guard D’Angelo Russell (as well as Timofey Mozgov) to Brooklyn to free up a guard slot on the roster just prior to the 2017 NBA Draft, they thought Brook Lopez was the only valuable piece coming to California. Well, Kyle Kuzma, the No. 27 overall pick also acquired from Brooklyn, showed off his true potential this Summer League and made a name for himself in front of Los Angeles Lakers officials as well as their fans.

Nobody saw this coming. The buzz around the trade between Los Angeles and Brooklyn was the Lakers getting rid of soon-to-be-star D’Angelo Russell and dumping the four-year, $64 million contract of Timofey Mozgov; not who was going to be the No. 27 overall pick.

Well, that pick became Kyle Kuzma, a 6-foot-9 forward out of Utah with a hunger for success.

While the lights and cameras were on Lonzo Ball in his second taste of Summer League basketball, Kuzma stole the show finishing with 31 points on 5-of-10 shooting from behind the arc. Ball’s stat-stuffing 11 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists were impressive, but the way Kuzma put the ball in the net was far more. Nicknamed “The Lightskin Connection” for their chemistry and alley-oop finds, Kuzma and Ball worked well together and led Los Angeles to become the 2017 NBA Summer League champions. Kuzma was named to the All-NBA Summer League Second Team for his contributions.

Despite teammate Lonzo Ball receiving 2017 NBA Summer League MVP honors, Kuzma shined yet again with Ball out in the championship finale due to a calf injury. Making an impact on both ends, Kuzma finished with 30 points and 10 rebounds on 6-of-10 three-pointers to lead Los Angeles over Portland 110-98. Kuzma’s confidence was spewing all game long as he claimed “they can’t guard me” on his way back to the bench. His stellar play won him Finals MVP of the Summer League.

 

 

Current Los Angeles Lakers president Magic Johnson worked his magic again. First it was Lonzo Ball, now it’s Kyle Kuzma making noise for the franchise.

On the young team full of potential, the Lakers found another young piece. Kuzma, 21, has the ability to guard both the small forward and power forward position and has a nice three-point stroke. His athleticism is nothing to sneeze at, either. Kuzma will join Larry Nance Jr. and Brandon Ingram as a few Los Angeles Lakers players who can live above the rim.

If Kuzma makes the roster, that puts Los Angeles at seven players under the age of 25.

Sure, Summer League may not always translate into the regular season, but Kyle Kuzma’s rise to fame has proven he can help bring back the winning culture to Los Angeles.

“The Lakers are back,” Magic Johnson declared.

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