Svi Mykhailiuk was the darling of Las Vegas Summer League, impressing everyone who watched the Los Angeles Lakers in the desert exhibition with a combination of shooting as hot as the temperatures outside the arena and more advanced than advertised supplementary skills.
The combination was enough to fully convince the Lakers they should select him, and it sounds like Mykhailiuk has continued to turn heads in scrimmages at the practice facility since.
On Lakers Media Day, Mike Trudell of Lakers.com asked Alex Caruso if “anything stood out to him” from those summer runs, and Caruso said it was the same person who blew everyone away in Las Vegas:
“I’ve been really impressed with Svi. I think he’s going to be the steal of the Draft like Kuz was last year.”
Wear didn’t get the benefit of seeing Mykhailiuk’s incredible summer league showing up close, but he also told Trudell that he’s been really impressed with what he’s seen from the rookie so far.
“He’s (really good). Much better defender than I would have expected.”
Mykhailiuk’s game and the elation it elicits is an interesting window into the way we view basketball. Yes, by now Mykhailiuk has proven he’s probably more than just a shooter — look no further than Wear being impressed with his defense for evidence that he’s displayed a more well-rounded skillset than most projected for him heading into the draft.
But make no mistake, despite the other abilities he’s flashed, Mykhailiuk is a stone-cold shooter. The dude can hit shots from all over the place and has the type of range that makes you think if he’s in the building, you wouldn’t be willing to bet your life on him not making whatever shot he’s taking. Under any circumstances. From anywhere in the arena. Maybe even if he’s outside the arena, too.
That type of shooting is the most noticeable thing someone can show on the basketball court, and it probably has at least a little to do with how much hype he’s getting. When it’s that glaringly obvious someone can shoot the hell out of the ball, people are going to notice.
That doesn’t mean Mykhailiuk hasn’t been impressive by any means, or that he couldn’t be a draft steal. This year’s Kyle Kuzma, though, as Caruso suggests? Likely not, if only because there are a lot of players at his position, and that breakout seasons like Kuzma had don’t happen every year. And while Kuzma wasn’t exactly known for his defense last year (or at least not in a positive way), Mykhailiuk will presumably have to give the Lakers’ something on that end in order to justify his spot in the rotation.
If Wear is proven prescient, though, and Mykhailiuk continues to prove he’s a better defender than he was given credit for as a draft prospect? Then between that, his shooting and how much the Lakers are on national TV this season, he certainly could start to wow large audiences in the same way the confident kid from Flint did last year.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.