Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma would’ve surprised had he simply been the best rookie on his own team, and he’s skyrocketed past even that seemingly unattainable goal to become one of the best first-year players in the entire NBA.
Ben Simmons’ existence and other rookies being more highly-touted — plus the presence of Ball on his own team — nearly ensure that Kuzma won’t win Rookie of the Year, but it’s hard not to think he’s easily been one of the 10-15 best rookies in the league this season.
Kuzma told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com he thinks he’s even better than that:
MT: OK, I know you need to get to your gameday nap, so final question: where would you have drafted yourself?
Kuzma: Definitely in the Top 5.
Would Kuzma actually go in the top-five in an NBA re-draft? It’s possible, if not the most likely scenario.
Still, Kuzma has made a strong case to go much higher than the 27th overall selection. He is currently third in the NBA in scoring among rookies with 14.8 points per game and fourth in rebounds with 6.5. Kuzma additionally ranks first in field goal percentage among rookies to take more than four shots per game (52.2 percent).
The main thing that would probably hold Kuzma back from going in the top five would be his age. Fair or not, 22-year-olds entering the draft get judged on a much harsher scale than younger first-year players due to their seeming lack of upside.
Kuzma still has some potential left to mine, but being further along in his development curve has also surely prepared him to play against grown men in a way 19-year-olds simply aren’t.
Kuzma’s confidence is still understandable given how stellar he’s been, and in a couple years, it seems totally possible teams will be wondering how he didn’t go in the top five. He just has to a show a little bit more before then.
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