Los Angeles sports fans love their star players. Coming into the 2017 NBA Summer League, Lakers fans were expecting that either 2017 No. 2 pick Lonzo Ball, a local talent out of UCLA, or 2016 No. 2 pick Brandon Ingram would be the star. Ball had a great Summer League and captured MVP, but it was Kuzma who maybe had the best Summer League. He was an afterthought to start the summer. He was picked late in the first round using a pick that came from the Brook Lopez trade. However, Kuzma showed off what he can do starting with a 31 point early in the summer. His best night though came when he helped the Lakers win their first Summer League title. Ball, who was already named MVP, sat out the game, and Kuzma went off to the tune of 30 points and 10 rebounds to secure the 110-98 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Utah basketball has had a player drafted in the first round in each of the last three years. Kuzma, at pick No. 27, was the latest of the three, but he may have the best NBA career. His skill set is perfect for the NBA game, and he has shown how dangerous of a three-point shooter he is in the 2017 Summer League (he was 6-of-10 for example from three in the Championship game).
SBNation’s Kristian Winfield caught up with Kuzma after his 13 points, 12 rebounds, four assists, two blocks, and a steal outing against the Philadelphia 76ers. She asked him if he thought he had something to prove. He said,
“I wouldn’t say prove that I belong on this team but that I belong on this level. I’ve been doubted my entire life. So for me to come out here, I wanted to prove that I was worth that 27th pick. I think I’ve showed that.”
Well, he has definitely showed he belongs now. He helped the storied Lakers franchise achieve their first Summer League crown on a night where he was the brightest star. Kuzma’s shooting range and athleticism are a lethal combination that could provide fits for NBA defenders, especially given his size at 6’9” 222. Kuzma also plays stingy, aggressive defense. He has the makings of a bright future in the NBA and is very deserving of the honor he received.