The youth movement is here. The Los Angeles Lakers did as many experts projected and selected Lonzo Ball with the second overall pick at Thursday’s NBA Draft. General Manager Rob Pelinka and Team President Magic Johnson waited until pick number 27 to make another selection and then traded their 28th pick for the 30th and 42nd picks.
Trading D’Angelo Russell to the Brooklyn Nets last week yielded the Lakers their 27th pick which they used on the former Utah Ute power forward Kyle Kuzma. The 21-year old was ranked 43rd by Draft Express but saw his stock rise with impressive performances at the NBA Draft Combine and in his team workouts.
He averaged 16.4 points, 9.4 rebounds and 2.4 assists during his third year in college while shooting over 50 percent from the field and over 32 percent from beyond the arc.
Kuzma does many things well, but does not do anything necessarily elite. While he does have good mobility, the team will have to see if he can guard small forwards at the next level. If not, his selection seems to make the current power forwards, Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr., expendable.
With the last pick in the first round, the Lakers selected senior shooting guard Josh Hart from Villanova. The 22-year old finished an excellent career in college by being named Big East player of the year and Big East defensive player of the year in 2016. He also won the NCAA championship during the 2015-2016 season.
Hart brings a competitive attitude and winning nature to the Lakers. Playing four years in college helped him develop leadership abilities and gave him a chance to improve his game. During his senior year, Hart averaged 18.7 points, 6.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists. He also immediately helps the Lakers outside shooting, shooting over 40 percent from three-point range last season.
Like the Kuzma pick, Hart does seem to make the Lakers’ current shooting guard Jordan Clarkson more expendable. The two have similar measurables and likely would compete for minutes.
The team’s 42nd pick was used on former Indiana Hoosier big-man Thomas Bryant. The 19-year old will hope to continue the success his last name has had with the organization. Projected by Draft Express as the 37th best player, the sophomore center looks like a steal for the front office.
Standing six foot 11 with a seven foot six wingspan, Bryant is an intimidating presence around the rim whenever he is on the floor. He is also an efficient scorer, shooting over 70 percent from the field his freshman season, over 55 percent from the field last season while making 38 percent of his threes.
Bryant’s combination of age, size, shot blocking and shooting prowess makes him an excellent upside prospect who might find time on both the Lakers and the G-League South Bay Lakers rosters. It will be interesting to see how the front office values second-year standout, Ivica Zubac who plays the same position as Bryant.
After the conclusion of the draft, the Lakers were able to ink a contract with undrafted, free agent guard P.J. Dozier out of South Carolina. Poor outside shooting and injury concerns caused the 20-year old sophomore to go undrafted. Draft Express had him ranked 52nd and he averaged almost 14 points and one steal per game last season.
Dozier’s length, standing six foot seven with a six foot 11 wingspan, make him an attractive candidate for the Lakers as a developmental prospect. He should be able to defend positions one through three and be a reliable, rotational play-maker in a few years.