NBA

Lakers Intro Draftees, Summer League Next

Earvin "Magic" Johnson and Rob Pelinka introduced Kyle Kuzma, Thomas Bryant and Josh Hart on Thursday

On Thursday, the Los Angeles Lakers introduced Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart and Thomas Bryant with fellow rookie Lonzo Ball watching the presentation from the practice court. Fellow Laker Larry Nance Jr. was also in attendance.

Hart will wear no. 5, and Bryant will wear no. 31. Kuzma will don no. 0, which was recently vacated when Nick Young opted out of his contract and became an unrestricted free agent.

The trio of youngsters all enter the Lakers at different stages in their development.

Hart is the most seasoned of the Lakers' newest additions with four years of college basketball under his belt, including a national championship with Villanova in 2016.

"He came in here for his draft workout, and he was always in the right place on the court, in every defensive drill," Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka boasted about Hart.

At 6 feet 5 inches tall, Hart is expected to be a contributor from opening night and a guard that expects to fill the gaps on both ends of the court. The 22-year-old never shot below 50 percent from the field during his college career, and his senior featured 40.4 percent shooting from beyond the three-point line. Those percentages suggest that Hart rarely forced a bad shot.

Kuzma, who red-shirted his rookie season, was a player that jumped out to the scouting department on film. Pelinka repeated that the 21-year-old was a "position-less players" and defensively, that quality appealed to the Lakers' roster builders.

Kuzma is a 6-foot 9-inch forward that connected with the front office partially due to to his upbringing in Michigan, where Lakers president Earvin "Magic" Johnson also grew up. Of the trio, Kuzma was selected the highest at no. 27 in the 2017 NBA Draft, a pick that the Lakers received via their trade with the Brooklyn Nets.

"When we had the meeting with him in Chicago, he went out there the next day and put on a show," Johnson said, referring to Kuzma's performance at the draft combine. "We said, 'Ok, that's the guy we like right there.' And so, he really impressed us with that performance that had in Chicago."

The Lakers' executives lauded the work ethic of all three guys and said the research with their respective college coaches led to the team making the picks.

While both Hart and Kuzma expect to be playing regular minutes from the start of the season considering they are both polished college players, Bryant is a bit more of a developing raw product. The team expects the 19-year-old 6-foot 10-inch center to shuttle down to the G-League, formerly known as the Development League.

Bryant is a three-point shooting center that can stretch the floor and played two seasons at Indiana University. In his final season as an amateur, Bryant shot 38.3 percent from beyond the three-point line. However, with a center like Brook Lopez, who is also a three-point shooting big man, and big man Ivica Zubac already on the roster, Bryant will likely struggle to see the court in his rookie season.

The big takeaway from the day, though, was that the Lakers have three rookies that expect to be rotation players during the 2017-18 season and another rookie that fits the profile of the modern NBA big man.

All four of the Lakers' rookies expect to be on the Lakers' Summer League roster, along with returning Lakers Zubac, Brandon Ingram and David Nwaba. There, the four rookies hope to display the qualities that led the Lakers calling their names on draft night.

The Lakers will play their first Summer League game in Las Vegas on Friday, July 7.

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