Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma were like peanut butter and jelly for the Los Angeles Lakers in Las Vegas Summer League, two very different players who were made better together, and it sounds like Kuzma thinks they can continue to successfully combine for years to come.
“I like to score the ball, and he likes to pass, so me and him are a good duo because of that. He finds me on the break, and I finish baskets so he can get assists,” Kuzma told Ryan Ward of Clutch Points in an exact description of why the two’s pairing worked so well in Las Vegas.
Kuzma is a tireless marathoner in transition, firing out of the gates every single time there is a loose ball and going deep for one of Ball’s touchdown passes. Kuzma is also a more-than-willing shooter who is happy to fire from deep, giving Lonzo another weapon to find in the corners or on the wings in transition.
Kuzma can also benefit from Ball not only when the latter sets him up, but also by getting the chance to serve as a secondary threat rather than the primary one when defenders key on Ball, as well as working as a pseudo remora fish in transition.
It’s unknown right now exactly how much playing time Kuzma will get as a rookie in a crowded Lakers frontcourt, but it’s not debatable how well he and Ball’s skillsets mesh. If he can become more of a defensive presence, something he says is a goal, then it will be incredibly hard for Lakers Head Coach Luke Walton to keep him off the floor during the 2017-18 season.
That’s a big if, although how well he and Ball fit together offensively and the Lakers’ investment in his success may have him a mainstay in the Lakers’ rotations rapidly regardless of how well he defends. How much Kuzma plays is just one of many little things to watch for from the Lakers this season, although we already know how good it will look when he does if its alongside Ball.
Harrison Faigen is co-host of the Locked on Lakers podcast (subscribe here), and you can follow him on Twitter at @hmfaigen.