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).
“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.