Summer League Rumors
Trudell: Let’s be honest, you guys had to be pretty happy with your selection while watching Kuzma rip up Las Vegas, with the qualifier that it’s “only Summer League.” When did he first get on your radar from a scouting perspective? Jeanie Buss: He’s been on our radar for a couple years now playing in the Pac-12 at Utah. We got to see them come play at USC and UCLA, as well as (outside of Los Angeles). I personally saw him when he was a freshman, but he didn’t play that much. I – and some of our scouts – saw him again when he started to play more as a sophomore and of course when he excelled as a junior.
Buss: We’ve had our eye on him because he’s multi-positional at the four and the three at that size (6’9’’). He has an ability to pass, shoot the ball, run the floor … good athlete, good understanding of the game. He was always intriguing to us. He just started to shoot the three this past year at Utah, and he didn’t shoot it that well at the beginning of the season. But as the season went on and in conference play he started to get more confidence with (the three).
“I just say this as humbly as possible, it didn’t surprise me,” Smith Jr. said of his Summer League explosion. “I’ve been playing against these guys since high school. I played them in college. They knew what I was capable of and I knew what I was capable of as well. So I just went out there and was playing my game.”
We caught up with a league scout to get his views on the 10 rookies who made the biggest marks on Summer League this year — what he loved about their performance, and what he didn’t love so much. Lonzo Ball, Lakers. Didn’t love: “Defenses I saw were making things a little too easy on him. You can go under the screen on him, but you still have to pick him up aggressively on the other side. NBA defenses are going to be a lot more aware of his deep passes, too. I don’t know how often he will be able to throw those 50-footers. So he will have a lot to learn against better defenders, but so far so good with him.”