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Kyle Kuzma hasn’t been focused on scoring for Lakers, and Luke Walton has been impressed with his passing

Kyle Kuzma has a turned a corner on both ends of the floor for the Lakers, pleasing head coach Luke Walton in the process.

NBA: San Antonio Spurs at Los Angeles Lakers Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Over the past few weeks, Kyle Kuzma has garnered well-deserved praise for his uptick in production on the defensive end. However, it’s not just his defense that’s starting to round out: It’s his entire game.

In his last five games, Kuzma is averaging 21.4 points, 9.2 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game while posting the second-highest Player Impact Estimate (15.8) on the team during that span. Of course, Kuzma is second to LeBron James (19).

Following the Lakers’ blowout win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday, Kuzma said that he’s been making a conscience effort to do things outside of just scoring (via Spectrum SportsNet):

“Recently I really haven’t thought about scoring too much because I know that comes naturally. I’m really just trying to defend, rebound and try to find my teammates because I know scoring is going to be there.”

Lakers head coach Luke Walton said he has been especially impressed with the way Kuzma has been sharing the ball as of late:

“I think it’s continual growth. He’s done a really nice job of being aggressive the last two nights, but also passing when he should. That’s the biggest thing with him. He’s naturally a scorer and he’s always looking to score, but the scoring lanes are gonna open up for him more when he’s always a threat to pass when he collapses the defense.”

In the 77 games he played last season, Kuzma had just three games with 5 assists or more. Through 26 games this season, he already has four, including three in his last five games.

From a scoring standpoint, fans know what to expect from Kuzma, but these added elements to his game will be the difference between him being a fringe starter and a fringe All-Star.

Hopefully this is a sign of things to come and permanent development for Kuzma, and not just a string of good games.

All stats are courtesy of unless otherwise noted. You can follow this author on Twitter at @RadRivas.

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