The Los Angeles Lakers might have came home empty-handed after the 2018 NBA Awards on Monday, but the official voting totals released by the NBA revealed a handful of Lakers, including Julius Randle and Kyle Kuzma, were in the running for a few of the night’s biggest awards.
According the results, Kyle Kuzma finished second in Rookie of the Year voting, behind Jayson Tatum of the Boston Celtics, Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz and Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons of the Philadelphia 76ers. Dennis Smith Jr. of the Dallas Mavericks came in at No. 5, with one third place vote.
Kuzma also received the ninth-most votes for Sixth Man of the Year, just behind his former teammate Jordan Clarkson.
Kuzma was named to the All-Rookie First Team in May, making him just the 12th rookie in Lakers history to receive the honor. The former No. 27 overall pick ranked second among rookies in points per game with 16.1 PPG, despite averaging the fourth most minutes per game (31.2 MPG).
Lonzo Ball, who was selected with the No. 2 overall pick in 2017, finished with zero Rookie of the Year votes. Luckily, not all of the Lakers’ former lottery picks were shunned on the NBA Awards ballots.
Julius Randle and Brandon Ingram finished fifth and 19th respectively in the Most Improved Player voting results. Randle received nine second place votes and nine third place votes, while Ingram received one second and third place vote.
Although Ingram made strides in his sophomore, the most obvious candidate for Most Improved Player on the Lakers’ roster was always Randle.
The 23-year-old averaged career highs in points per game (16.1 PPG) and field goal percentage (55.8 percent) despite averaging just 26.7 minutes per game, the fewest minutes per game he’s averaged since his rookie season. As a result, his per-36 minutes numbers were off the charts:
Julius Randle per-36 minutes (2017-18): 21.7 points (career-high), 10.7 rebounds and 3.5 assists
Coming off a career year, Randle will have no shortage of suitors in restricted free agency. While the Lakers can match any offer made for the former No. 7 overall pick, his future in Los Angeles hinges on whether or not the front office can attract bigger name free agents like LeBron James and/or Paul George.
Whether it’s in L.A. or not, expect Randle to be in the Most Improved Player conversation again next season.
The Lakers might not have a surefire All-Star on their current roster (yet), but the future looks bright for the team’s young players. Hopefully, the front office can add talent this summer without letting go of their up and coming stars.