Wizards coach says Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma has ‘the attention of the league’
By Bill Oram
WASHINGTON — It’s not just Lakers fans who are enamored with rookie Kyle Kuzma.
Wizards coach Scott Brooks used a large chunk of his pregame media availability on Thursday to praise the 27th overall pick.
“He’s definitely got the attention of the league,” Brooks said.
After spending four years at the University of Utah, Kuzma declared for the draft last spring, forgoing his senior year. After a standout performance at the NBA’s Draft Combine in Chicago, Kuzma shot up draft boards, and has said he had a good feeling the Lakers would draft him after his group workout in L.A.
Lakers coach Luke Walton acknowledged that during Kuzma’s junior season at Utah he “had no idea who he was.” But then he started scouting draft prospects.
“I watched hours of tape on all the guys that we were interested in and I was shocked when I saw his tape,” Walton said, “because I saw spurts of how explosive and talented he was. But then when you watched the full game, you didn’t know if that was who he was or if he just had great moments.
“We’ve quickly found out that’s who he is and he plays with that type of energy all the time.”
The Lakers are reaping the benefits of Kuzma’s play, while outsiders are left to speculate why other teams passed on him. Brooks had a theory for that, too.
“It’s hard to draft good players,” Brooks said. “A lot of people pass up guys because they might have played an extra year in college. God forbid he’s 21 years old. He’s too old to get better I guess.”
That, clearly, has not been the case.
Kuzma scored 15 points in the Lakers’ victory over Washington on Oct. 25. Becoming the starting power forward four games ago on Nov. 3 has only enhanced his profile and productivity. […]