Kyle Kuzma has had an interesting career thus far with the Los Angeles Lakers and he is only in his third season. Coming out of college, Kuzma was the big surprise of the 2017 NBA Draft, and if was not for Donovan Mitchell‘s great rookie year, Kuzma would have been the best sleeper pick of the draft.
He came out of the gates sprinting in the NBA, averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. Compared to second overall pick Lonzo Ball, and even second-year forward Brandon Ingram, Kuzma’s start was lightning fast.
He has not really gotten much better since then, though. While he certainly has not gotten worse, it is clear that he jumped out of the gates close to his full potential. He averaged 18.7 points in his second season and is averaging just 12.5 points this season — a combined total of 16.0 points, right on line with his rookie year.
Throughout all of this Kuzma survived the longest and most trying trade rumors that circled the Lakers for half a decade before the team finally finished its two superstar plan by trading Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart and draft picks to the New Orleans Pelicans.
Kyle Kuzma survived the Los Angeles Lakers trade for Anthony Davis, but the rumors didn’t stop.
Kuzma became the team’s primary trade chip as we approached the NBA Trade Deadline and because of his unorthodox fix with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, he became rather expendable.
We have already been down that route and the possibility of Kuzma getting traded in the offseason does exist, especially as there are some good fits out there for him.
But what if the Los Angeles Lakers never drafted Kuzma? What if they drafted someone who was at least as talented as Kuzma and fit the team back then as much as they do now? With Kuzma being picked 27th, there are not many examples of other possible routes that the team could have gone.
But there are two. There are two prospects that the Lakers could have selected in the 2017 NBA Draft with the 27th overall pick but didn’t; two prospects that would have fit nicely with that version of the Lakers as well as this current version.
Let’s break them down.