Via a trade from the Brooklyn Nets, the Los Angeles Lakers selected former University of Utah forward Kyle Kuzma in the first round of the NBA Draft on Thursday evening with the No. 27 pick. This marks the first time since 1998 to 2000 that Utah has had a player taken in three straight seasons. Michael Doleac, Andre Miller and Hanno Möttölä were taken over the course of those three years, while Delon Wright and Jakob Poeltl were selected over the past two years before Kuzma.
“He really rose up on the draft board,” said ESPN analyst Jay Bilas on the ESPN broadcast. “He didn’t have this kind of reputation in the middle of last season, but he really can go get the ball. He pursues it, and he fights. He’s a good solid athlete that has length. He’s improved his range. He’s a much better offensive player than he was at the beginning of last season.”
In Kuzma’s third and final year as a member of the Runnin’ Utes, he averaged 16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists in over 30 minutes per game. That earned him a spot on the All Pac-12 First Team alongside names like Markelle Fultz, the No. 1 draft pick who played for the Washington Huskies, and Lonzo Ball, the No. 2 draft pick who played for the UCLA Bruins.
Not only is Kuzma the 44th Ute to be drafted by an NBA team, he is the third player to be drafted under current head coach Larry Krystkowiak.