Going into the game, there were questions about how Kuzma would look against the Pistons’ frontcourt tandem of Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond, especially considering it was only his second game back from injury and in his first game back, he went 4-20 from the field.
Kuzma responded to those concerns in a way only he could, scoring a career-high 41 points in three quarters to lead the Lakers to a blowout win over Detroit.
With that monster performance, Kuzma joined Klay Thompson, Steph Curry, James Harden and LeBron James as the only players to score over 40 points in three quarters this season (H/T SportsCenter). Kuzma’s 41 points are also the most by any Laker in fewer than 30 minutes played in the shot clock era, according to ESPN Stats & Info.
Still not impressed? According to Synergy, Kuzma scored all 41 points without using an isolation or post up possession.
He was excellent and it’s safe to say his teammates would all agree with that assessment, even if some of them didn’t realize just how dominant he was, like Brandon Ingram.
“I didn’t know he had 41 points in three quarters, but that’s kind of what he does, scoring the basketball,” Ingram said after the game. “He always has a knack for finding the basketball and putting it inside the rim and that’s just good for our team.”
Lonzo Ball also gave his 2017 NBA Draft classmate props, telling reporters he was impressed with the way Kuzma responded from his cold shooting night.
“His confidence is never going to waver, no matter how he shoots,” Ball said. “We know he’s one of the best scorers on this team and we look to him for points. He was feeling it.”
The praise for Kuzma didn’t stop with the young players on the team either. JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley, the team’s designated veterans with Rajon Rondo and LeBron James sidelined, were equally excited for the 23-yea-old on his career night.
“If I’m a great scorer, Kuz is … man, it’s scary,” Beasley said. “As long as he keeps his foot on the gas, man, the sky is the limit.”
“Nothing bothers Kuz,” McGee added. “Kuz is gonna get ‘em up, and if they fall, they fall... That’s his game and we love it.”
You’d be hard pressed to find someone that doesn’t love Kuzma’s game right now.
Prior to going down with an injury, Kuzma was playing some of the best basketball of his young career. Through 15 games in December, Kuzma averaged 22.2 points, 7.1 rebounds and 3.6 assists per game.
It’s still early on in the season, but Kuzma is starting to resemble someone that can be a the second or third-best player on a championship team somewhere down the line. He might not be an All-Star, but he’s pretty damn good.