Golden State Warriors All-Star Draymond Green returned to action on Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers and wasted no time getting under the skin of opposing players. He even got into a scuffle with Michael Beasley that resulted in Beasley getting ejected from the game.
The Lakers won’t see Green again until Christmas Day, but they’re hoping to see plenty of him and the Warriors in the playoffs this year as they look to make a run at the title. While many have their doubts that the Lakers are contenders, Green believes they’ll be in the mix.
In an interview with Sam Alipour of ESPN Magazine in Tokyo, Japan earlier this summer, Green shared his thoughts on the Lakers, including his expectations for them with LeBron James, and who he thinks could be James’ No. 2 option.
Who’s next in your mind now that the Cavs are done?
I think Boston will be really good -- like, really, really, really good. I think Toronto could be good. But the West is tough enough. Houston is still Houston. The Lakers will be much improved.
LeBron’s not changing them overnight.
S---, he changed Cleveland overnight.
They had Kyrie.
I think Kyrie is great, but that was a young Kyrie. And the Lakers got some very good young talent. I think [Brandon] Ingram and Kuz [Kyle Kuzma] will be really good. That second star could possibly be Kuz, just because he fits better with LeBron -- he can shoot. But both have that potential.
Green isn’t the first person to suggest Kyle Kuzma will be James’ go-to guy based on fit alone. Historically speaking, James has played well with bigs that can stretch the floor like Kevin Love and Chris Bosh.
Kuzma’s game might not be as well-rounded as Bosh or Love’s, but he showed during his rookie season that he has the potential to be a serious threat offensively. However, everything we’ve seen in the preseason suggests that Brandon Ingram, not Kuzma, will be James right-hand man.
Through five games in the preseason, Ingram averaged a team-high 17.4 points per game, 5 rebounds and 1.6 assists. Kuzma wasn’t too far behind in the scoring department in averaging 15.8 points per game on a team-high 12.7 field goal attempts per game, but his ability to score has never been put into question.
In order for Kuzma to gain any traction on Ingram, he’ll have to show signs of improvement on defense. Perhaps his seeming regression on the defensive end is a result of him playing out of position for most of training camp, whether it be at small forward or center, but it hasn’t been promising.
It’s still early in the season, but Kuzma has some ground to make up before he can enter that conversation again and if he does, the Lakers will be in good shape headed into the postseason.
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