The Los Angeles Lakers have no shortage of exciting forwards, from Brandon Ingram to Larry Nance Jr. to Julius Randle. Ingram and Randle were lottery picks, while Nance went late in the first round two years ago.
But what if the best forward prospect the Lakers have is Kyle Kuzma?
Kuzma went No. 27 in this year's NBA draft, and wasn't much well-known outside of the Pac-12 fandom. He was truly an afterthought to the Lakers' big move to draft Lonzo Ball No. 2 overall and trade D'Angelo Russell for Brook Lopez — the No. 27 pick belonged to Brooklyn, and the Nets sent it to the Lakers in the deal.
Kuzma was a hero in Vegas Summer League, leading Whitney Medworth to declare he'd be a top-100 player in four years. We thought her crazy, but ... well. Over five preseason games, Kuzma is averaging 19 points on 56 percent shooting. He's the No. 7 scorer in the league over preseason. He has clearly been more productive than Ingram, Randle, or Nance. Kuzma has an excellent rhythm with Lonzo, but he's also played exceedingly well without Ball, who has sat three of the five games.
In short, Kyle Kuzma is real!
It is not unprecedented for certain types of players to have quicker success in the NBA. I'm reminded of the Sacramento Kings drafting Jimmer Fredette and Isaiah Thomas the same year, and I.T. taking to NBA pace like a glove while Fredette struggled, despite being picked 50 spots higher. What matters isn't where a player was picked. What matters is what a player does. And Kyle Kuzma is doing it.
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