Lakers Aim for Versatility With Rookie Class
One is a do-it-all, pass-happy power forward. One is a 3 and D wing. One is a center that can step out and hit 3-pointers.
With their last three picks of the 2017 Draft — Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant — the Lakers clearly sought out players that fit the modern NBA and boast versatile skill sets.
All three, who were introduced at a press conference on Thursday, have the potential to hit 3-pointers as well as defensive flexibility.
“All of us can guard several different positions,” Hart said. “ … When you have that versatility defensively it gives you another step up.”
Lakers President Magic Johnson said that the front office was searching for shooting, toughness and basketball IQ.
They also wanted players from winning collegiate programs, and seem to have checked all boxes with the aforementioned trio and second-overall pick Lonzo Ball, who was introduced last week.
Johnson and General Manager Rob Pelinka were particularly complimentary toward Kuzma, who has been scrimmaging in the team gym for the past few days.
A First Team All-Pac-12 selection who ranked among his conference’s top five in both scoring and rebounding, Kuzma figures to be a nice fit in head coach Luke Walton’s offense.
“This guy has got everything we’re looking for,” Pelinka said. “The way Luke wants to play, the way Magic and I want to put the team together is that position-less sort of versatility. Kyle fits right in the sweet spot of that.”
The University of Utah product also boosted his stock at the NBA Draft Combine, where he scored 20 points in 20 minutes while sinking four triples.
“He went out there and put on a show,” Magic Johnson said. “… We said, ‘OK, that’s the guy who we like right there.’ He really impressed us with that performance he had in Chicago.”
Meanwhile, Johnson and Pelinka applauded Hart for his competitiveness, intelligence and defensive capabilities.
Bryant drew praise for his work ethic, as strength coach Gunnar Peterson immediately took to him, while Pelinka commended him for improving his vertical jump from 24 inches to 30 in just two years of college.
“He can protect the rim just with his length,” Pelinka said. “Then he has the ability to go out on the perimeter and make the defense guard him.”