With the 27th pick — aka the pick the team got as part of the D’Angelo Russell trade — the Lakers selected University of Utah PF Kyle Kuzma.
I’d be lying if said I knew much about Kuzma, but he’s got good physical tools — measuring at 6’9″ with a 7′ wingspan. At a little over 220 pounds, he’s not the bulkiest player, but he’s labeled as a smooth athlete who has a rangy offensive game with some real defensive ability.
Kuzma has some “stretch” potential at PF, but will need to improve on his 32.1% from distance he posted last season in college. Where he can excel, however, is as a ball mover the half court and as a finisher in transition leveraging his quickness and athleticism to change ends quickly. Per scouting reports, he’s a good passer and a plus rebounder averaging 2.4 assists and 9 rebounds a game last season.
In saying all that, the Lakers used this pick on a position where they currently have a lot of depth. Julius Randle is the current starter at PF with Larry Nance as his backup. Behind them, the Lakers also have Luol Deng who is best suited as a small-ball PF at this stage and you’d imagine Brandon Ingram will also still see some minutes at the PF spot over the course of the year.
So, in many ways, Kuzma’s selection feels like a hedge should the team end up making a trade of one of the PF’s. It’s hard to see any real scenario where the team goes into the season with all of these players on the roster considering the minute crunch that would exist. Either one of the aforementioned guys/Kuzma is not long for this roster or one of them (either Kuzma or Deng) isn’t likely to see many (if any) minutes at PF.
If that doesn’t happen, even if Kuzma was the best player on the Lakers’ board, I would imagine there could have been a similarly rated player in the backcourt or on the wing who could have been taken in this spot. That’s nothing against Kuzma, but more about team needs. In other words, we may still be waiting for moves to happen and, if I’m being honest, I don’t expect it to involve Kuzma at this point.