Perhaps the most interesting team-building exercise is being held in Philadelphia, where the Sixers added two high-quality veterans to The Process on Saturday. J.J. Redick signed a 1-year, $23 million contract while Amir Johnson joined at one year and $11 million. The Sixers still have plenty of space left should a good young player come available or a team need a cap space dumping ground.
Philly has an opening in a weak East. Three 2017 playoff teams — the Hawks, Bulls, and Pacers — are at serious risk of falling out of the bracket. The only outside team who will be penciled into the postseason by just about everyone is Miami, based on their epic run in the back half of last season.
And when Ball claimed Summer League MVP honors despite sitting Monday’s championship showdown against the Trail Blazers, it was Kuzma whose play solidified the franchise’s first-ever summertime crown. The Utah product put up 30 points on 6-of-10 shooting from downtown and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead his Lakers to a 110-98 victory. He won Summer League Finals MVP as a result.
That’s why after his July 12 matchup against the 76ers, I caught Kuzma just before he headed to the team bus. With all the hype surrounding Ball, I wondered, did he feel he had something to prove?
“Yeah for sure,” Kuzma told SB Nation. “I wouldn’t say prove that I belong on this team but that I belong on this level. I’ve been doubted my entire life. So for me to come out here, I wanted to prove that I was worth that 27th pick. I think I’ve showed that.”
After hitting the jackpot in the draft lottery to land Ball with the No. 2 overall pick, it appears Magic Johnson has struck gold once again. Kuzma can play both the three and four. He can guard virtually every position and has the length, speed, shooting stroke, and athleticism that fits perfectly with Los Angeles’ point guard of the future.