It’s a dream come true for former Utah forward Kyle Kuzma.
Kuzma was selected by the Brooklyn Nets with the number 27 pick of the 2017 NBA Draft, but had his rights immediately traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. The Lakers acquired the rights to this pick in the trade that sent D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets.
Leaving college early, Kuzma finished his junior season as Utah’s leading scorer, averaging 16.4 points per game. He averaged 9.3 rebounds and 2.4 assists and shot 50.4 percent from the field.
With a 6-9 frame, the Flint, MI native has a chance to become a valuable role player within the Lakers organization. As one of the more athletic forwards in his range, the Lakers were said to be high on Kuzma’s versatility and style of play. The Lakers will look to run the ball this season which is perfect for Kuzma’s athleticism.
OFFICIAL: Lakers acquire Brook Lopez and 27th overall draft pick Kyle Kuzma in a trade with Brooklyn. pic.twitter.com/CKG5RPlDc6— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) June 23, 2017
What will be interesting to see play out is how Kuzma will be able to space the floor as a big man. He only shot 32 percent from the three-point range his junior year, but did improve as the year before he was only shooting 25.5 percent from beyond the arc. The former Runnin’ Ute has previously told reporters that he was working on his shooting during the offseason. If Kuzma gets his shot together, it will definitely be a perfect fit for the rebuilding Lakers, as Lonzo Ball loves to be surrounded by shooters.
Currently, Kuzma will be competing against Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. for playing time. That will only become more interesting if the Lakers land Paul George from the Indiana Pacers during a trade in the near future.
Kuzma, who declared for the NBA Draft after his junior season, joins a long list of of Runnin’ Ute NBA Draftees and has become the third-straight and 44th player overall to be selected by an NBA team in the draft. This is the third-straight season that a Utah player has been selected in the draft under current head coach Larry Krystkowiak. * Jakob Poeltl (2016) and DelonWright (2015) were both drafted in the first round by the Toronto Raptors.
According to a press release from the University of Utah, “This is the first time since 1997-99 that Utah has had a player selected in the first round of the NBA Draft in three consecutive seasons. The last time it happened, Keith Van Horn went second overall in 1997, followed by the selections of Doleac (1998) and Miller (1999).”
Kuzma was the fifth Pac-12 Conference player selected in the first round at the time of his selection. He would go on to be one of a total of six Pac-12 selections in the first round, marking the most first round selections for the conference (in two-round format) since 2014. Utah is now the only school from the Pac-12 to have had at least one player selected in the draft the past three seasons.
Many predicted Kuzma to be a late first round or early second round pick.
|1947||Wat Misaka||-||-||New York Knicks|
|1948||Arnie Ferrin||-||-||Minneapolis Lakers|
|1949||Vern Gardner||-||-||Philadelphia Warriors|
|1951||Glen Duggins||-||-||Baltimore Bullets|
|1952||Glen Smith||-||-||Philadelphia Warriors|
|1956||Gary Bergen||-||-||New York Knicks|
|1056||Art Bunte||-||-||New York Knicks|
|1958||Milt Kane||8||59||New York Knicks|
|1962||Billy McGill||1||1||Chicago Zephyrs|
|1964||Doug Moon||13||94||Baltimore Bullets|
|1966||Jerry Chambers||1||7||L.A. Lakers|
|1966||George Fisher||6||51||New York Knicks|
|1968||Jeff Ockel||3||24||Seattle Supersonics|
|1968||Merv Jackson||9||120||Phoenix Suns|
|1968||Walt Simon||12||149||Seattle Supersonics|
|1971||Mike Newlin||2||24||San Diego Rockets|
|1971||Ken Gardner||5||82||Phoenix Suns|
|1972||Mark Soderberg||12||172||Phoenix Suns|
|1974||Mike Sojourner||1||10||Atlanta Hawks|
|1974||Tyrone Medley||5||79||Atlanta Hawks|
|1975||Luther Burden||2||26||New York Knicks|
|1976||Doug Terry||8||124||Atlanta Hawks|
|1977||Jack Jones||4||86||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1978||Buster Matheney||2||28||Houston Rockets|
|1978||Jeff Judkins||2||30||Boston Celtics|
|1979||Greg Deane||4||67||Utah Jazz|
|1979||Coby Leavitt||9||180||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1980||Coby Leavitt||6||134||Phoenix Suns|
|1981||Danny Vranes||1||5||Seattle Supersonics|
|1981||Tom Chambers||1||8||San Diego Clippers|
|1981||Karl Bankowski||6||116||Dallas Mavericks|
|1983||Pace Mannion||2||43||Golden State Warriors|
|1983||Peter Williams||7||145||Golden State Warriors|
|1984||Chris Winans||8||177||New Jersey Nets|
|1993||Josh Grant||2||43||Denver Nuggets|
|1993||Byron Wilson||2||54||Phoenix Suns|
|1997||Keith Van Horn||1||2||Philadelphia 76ers*|
|1998||Michael Doleac||1||12||Orlando Magic|
|1999||Andre Miller||1||8||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2000||Hanno Möttölä||2||40||Atlanta Hawks|
|2005||Andrew Bogut||1||1||Milwaukee Bucks|
|2015||Delon Wright||1||20||Toronto Raptors|
|2016||Jakob Poeltl||1||9||Toronto Raptors|
|2017||Kyle Kuzma||1||27||LA Lakers|
|* - Traded to New Jersey Nets shortly after draft|