The Los Angeles Lakers exited Thursday night with four freshly-minted Lakers through the Draft as well as the signing of one of the top undrafted free agents.
The Lakers began Thursday by surprising no one and taking Lonzo Ball second. With the pick acquired from the Brooklyn Nets as part of the D’Angelo Russell trade, the team selected Kyle Kuzma out of Utah.
The team then traded with the Utah Jazz, sending out the 28th pick while bringing in the 30th and 42nd picks. With the 30th pick, the Lakers selected Josh Hart, a guard out of Villanova. Lastly, the team selected Indiana forward Thomas Bryant with the 42nd pick to round out their draft.
In the immediate moments following the Draft, the Lakers landed one of the top undrafted free agents in South Carolina’s PJ Dozier.
By generally all accounts, the Lakers had a very successful night. The team adds four draft picks and five players total to the roster had a very clear focus on what they wanted to address, which was clearly shooting.
This outlook on the Laker draft was shared by nearly everyone across the Web as they were often given one of the best grades on the night:
Chad Ford, ESPN – B+
The Lakers got the guy who has been groomed his whole life to play for them. Ball might be the best passer at the position since Jason Kidd, with a feel for the game that allows him to see plays almost before they begin. Whatever the flaws in his game, his ability to make his teammates better and to lead should make him a great long-term fit in L.A. He was the right pick.
If Lonzo is as good as expected, it won’t matter that they gave away Russell.
Sam Vecenie, Sporting News – B (averaged)
The Lakers end up with Josh Hart, a guy they likely would have picked at 28 had they stayed there. Hart helps their depleted wing position a ton. He’s tough, can knock down shots and will be able to play sooner rather than later. The Lakers should end up with a rotation wing here.
Hart was a nice pickup at the end of the first round, and he may fit into Luke Walton’s rotation faster than some think.
The Kuzma and Bryant picks are more questionable, but Ball made draft night a good one for Lakers fans.
The Lakers took the best player in the draft, and they made sure he would have plenty of opportunity to grow by trading D’Angelo Russell earlier in the week. Now, the rest of the NBA should prepare for Los Angeles’ inevitable return to glory.
Don’t forget about the Josh Hart pick, either. Hart is a position-less basketball player and a flat-out winner. The Lakers needed a guy like him and the fact they were able to get him at 30 is another win. Kyle Kuzma is going to wind up being one of the guys we look back on in three years and wonder why he lasted this long. The former Utah standout and combine stud is a capable athlete and crafty finisher – he’s going to earn minutes as a rookie.
Nicholas Goss, NESN – A=
Lonzo Ball is a fantastic playmaker, and those skills, combined with his size, have drawn him comparisons to Penny Hardaway and Jason Kidd. The Lakers needed a true point guard, and Ball fits the bill. He’s also a quality scorer, although his shooting form and percentages must improve.
The Lakers and Ball have seemed destined for each other for a while. However, just because Ball was the expected pick doesn’t mean he wasn’t also the smart pick. Adding shooting guard Josh Hart at the end of Round 1 was another smart move for a franchise that finally seems to be moving back in the right direction.
Kevin Pelton, ESPN