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‘Steal of the draft’ Kyle Kuzma forcing his way onto floor for Lakers

By in Press Enterprise on October 3, 2017

By Bill Oram

LOS ANGELES — Luke Walton enjoyed the pre-draft interview, and liked what he saw on tape. But still, he figured it would take time for Kyle Kuzma to develop into a real NBA player.

He didn’t realize he would need to find rotation minutes for the rookie forward from Day 1.

Likewise, Lonzo Ball, who grew close with Kuzma over the summer, said he did not remember Kuzma from UCLA’s one matchup against Kuzma’s Utah Utes last season.

“I almost gave UCLA a triple-double that game,” Kuzma said. “So I don’t know about that.”

One thing that has not often been disputed is how impressive the 27th overall draft choice has been not only in the first practices of the preseason but throughout the summer. He was named the Most Valuable Player of the summer league championship game in Las Vegas.

Whatever hype has found Kuzma doesn’t compare to what surrounds Ball, but Kuzma is undeniably a fan favorite, with fans greeting him with drawn out moans of “Kuuuuuuz” when he has taken the floor in the preseason.

On media day, second-year forward Brandon Ingram called him “Kyle Kuzma, the steal of the draft,” as though that had become his official name.

In Saturday’s preseason opener, Kuzma scored a team-high 19 points and he came out hot again on Monday against Denver, hitting his first two 3-point attempts.

“He looks really good,” forward Julius Randle said last week. “He plays with a tremendous amount of energy, pace. Obviously can score the ball, very active.”

After his performance Saturday in Anaheim, Kuzma started hearing a lot of buzz – about himself.

“Definitely everybody was excited,” Kuzma said. “Especially coming out the gate like that, nobody was expecting probably to do that.”

Kuzma left Utah after a junior season in which he was voted first-team All-Pac-12 despite being pegged as a likely second-round […]    

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