“I got drafted 27 because I was killing in workouts” Wizards Kyle Kuzma reflects on his 2017 NBA Draft

In 2017, Kyle Kuzma was a little-known player from the University of Utah who was hoping to be selected in the NBA Draft. He had a solid college career and believed he had a good chance of being picked in the first round, but he was ultimately surprised when he was drafted 27th overall by the Brooklyn Nets and then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers.

“I wasn’t supposed to be drafted,” he said. 

“Like I got drafted 27 because I was killing in workouts, I was killing the Combine. You know the Under Advisory Committee, right? You call them right before you decide, okay do I want to test the waters? Do I want to declare? Do I want to come back?

“They call me and they go, ‘Okay so we got your feedback. 19 NBA teams believe that you should be picked around 50 to 60 and then the other 11 said that you would go undrafted. So, take this information with what you want.’

“Because I had another year of eligibility but I was graduating. I was like, ‘Why the hell am I in school right now?’ I just got a degree, that make no damn sense to go back to school. I know I’m way better than 50, 60 people. I got to be, right?”

Did Kuzma proved everybody wrong?

At that time, Kuzma was determined to stake everything on himself.

“So I go out, I test it, I tell my coach I’m leaving,” Kuzma continued.

“Everybody’s like, ‘Yo, you’re making a terrible mistake. Nobody thinks you get drafted. Why don’t you come back? Potentially be a first round pick.’ I said, ‘Coach I’m out of here bro.’ For me, I just had this blind confidence in myself and wanted to prove myself.”

And prove himself he did. In his rookie season with the Lakers, Kuzma quickly emerged as a key contributor off the bench and earned a spot on the NBA All-Rookie First Team. He has since become a starter and a key player for the Lakers, averaging over 20 points per game in the 2019-20 season and helping lead the team to the NBA Finals.

However, Kuzma believes that his impressive workouts leading up to the draft played a major role in his first selection. “I was killing in workouts,” he said. “I think that’s what really helped me get drafted.”


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