EL SEGUNDO, CA – The 2017-2018 NBA season didn’t exactly turn out to be the kind of year the Los Angeles Lakers expected it would have. But the Purple and Gold did have some bright moments. Adding heralded first-year man Lonzo Ball and the sensational rookie Kyle Kuzma to the team’s roster wound up serving the Laker faithful with plenty of highlight-reel plays and higher expectations for the team in the future.
Ball came into the Lakers organization projected as the next great thing to suit up for a franchise listed with Hall of Famers and reputable ballers. Kuzma, on the other hand, caught many people by surprise with his exciting, above-the-rim play. Even though the Lakers finished 11th in the NBA’s Western Conference with a 35-47 record, Ball and Kuzma earned some kudos from the league office for what they did on the court.
Kuzma, a forward with the Lakers, has been named to the NBA’s All-Rookie First Team while guard Ball was named as an All-Rookie Second Team selection. This is the fourth consecutive season that at least one Lakers player has been honored with an All-Rookie selection and Kuzma is the 12th player in team history to be awarded first team accolades.
Kuzma, the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, was named Kia NBA Western Conference Rookie of the Month for games played in October and November after averaging a team-leading 16.7 points, 6.1 rebounds and 1.6 assists while shooting 50.4 percent in the first 20 games of his career.
He continued his strong play throughout the season, hitting more three-pointers than any rookie in franchise history (159) while becoming the first Lakers rookie to score 25+ points in three straight games since Jerry West in 1960-61.
In 37 games as a starter, the 22-year-old averaged 18.8 points per game on 44.6 percent shooting, going along with 7.2 rebounds and 1.9 assists. Kuzma finished the year ranked second among rookies in points per game (16.1), fifth in rebounding (6.3), seventh in three-point percentage (.366) and ninth in field goal percentage (.450).
Ball, the second overall selection in last year’s draft, played in 52 games (50 starts) in 2017-18, averaging 10.2 points, 6.9 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.7 steals in 34.2 minutes per game. He finished the season tied for first among rookies in steals, also ranking second in assists and fourth in rebounds.
After starring for one year at UCLA, Ball, a Chino Hills native, finished the season with 13 double-doubles and two triple-doubles, tying LeBron James as the youngest player in NBA history to record multiple triple-double games, and – along with Kuzma and Brandon Ingram – was one of 10 American rookie and sophomore players selected by the league’s assistant coaches to participate in the Mtn Dew Kickstart Rising Stars Game at NBA All-Star 2018.
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