Kyle Kuzma shot the lights out in Las Vegas Summer League. The Los Angeles Lakers rookie knocked down an almost-certainly totally unsustainable 48 percent of his three-point attempts in the desert tournament on his run to winning MVP of the team’s win in the Summer League Finals.
The biggest question going forward is whether or not Kuzma’s shooting is sustainable. 50 threes in summer league isn’t exactly a statistically significant sample by which to judge how good of a shooter Kuzma is, but the Lakers feel he can play the three. Whether or not he can do so will depend on whether or not his three is anywhere close to as potent as it was in Las Vegas.
Count Lakers Director of Scouting and Assistant General Manager Jesse Buss among those who believes Kuzma can show enough range at the NBA level to succeed no matter what position he plays.
“As the season went on and in conference play he started to get more confidence with (the three),” Buss told Mike Trudell of Lakers.com. “He told us as much during his interview with us in Chicago. Throughout the whole process of the combine, he was on fire. He almost hit every shot in the one day he scrimmaged at the 5-on-5 portion.”
Buss said it was “more of the same” during Kuzma’s private workout with the team before the draft.
“We were pretty confident in the way his stroke looked and how he was hitting shots at his workout that he was going to project to be a pretty good shooter. Hopefully he’s able to keep that up. It’s a crazy number to shoot 48 percent (in Vegas), but he’s a hard worker, a good kid and he embodies what we’re trying to build here culture wise. He’s an unselfish guy, he works well with others and is versatile on both ends of the court,” Buss said.
Adding to the Lakers’ faith in Kuzma’s shot is not just how he’s shot so far (which actually wasn’t that impressive before summer league), but how he looks while he’s shooting.
“His mechanics. They were pretty solid. We were pretty confident from the coaching staff through the scouting staff that he should and could become a better shooter,” Buss said when Trudell asked what gave the Lakers confidence in Kuzma despite his lack of results in college. “He does have to put in the work, though. He didn’t show in three years at Utah that he was a knock-down shooter like he was in Vegas, so he definitely has to keep working at it and improve on the big stage. We just felt confident that he’d be a pretty good shooter.”
Whether or not Kuzma will be “a pretty good shooter” remains to be seen, but it’s interesting to get a look into why the Lakers believed he could be.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here, or listen to us talk about our expectations for Kuzma and the rest of the team’s fantasy value below), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.