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Looking at what Kuzma adds to the Lakers

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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.

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.


Year Player Round Pick Team
Year Player Round Pick Team
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
Utes in the NBA Draft