Kyle Kuzma prepared for Thursday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder in a way that would make Kobe Bryant proud: By watching highlights of himself from his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers.
Following the Lakers’ big win over the Thunder, where Kuzma dropped a season-high seven 3-pointers on his way to a game-high 32 points, Kuzma said he watched highlights from his rookie season to see how he could break out of his shooting slump.
It’s safe to say it worked (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“Past couple days I’ve been trying to look at my rookie highlights to see how I shot the ball and just trying to make adjustments. I was trying to this year shoot it and aim it, and really worried about it, but for me it’s just staying with my work ethic and watching film of the shots I made this year and last year.”
.@kylekuzma (32 PTS, 8 REB, 4 AST, 3 STL) tells @LakersReporter how "sticking to the game plan and playing the percentages" allowed the #Lakers to chip away at OKC's lead and ultimately take the win. pic.twitter.com/9F42lVi5Bj— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) January 18, 2019
In the five games leading up to his scoring outburst on Thursday, Kuzma was shooting 41 percent from the field and 26.3 percent from behind the 3-point line. But how would watching his rookie season highlights help him?
Through 77 games in his rookie season, Kuzma converted 36.6 percent of his 159 3-point attempts, which was tied for a team-high with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. This season, he’s making just 30.9 percent of his threes.
While some of that has to do with the fact that he’s attempting a few more per game this year, it sounds like Kuzma has just been overthinking when he’s shot this season. If he can figure out what has been behind his shooting struggles, he can easily become a 20-plus-point per game scorer for the Lakers.
Would that get him a spot in the All-Star game? Probably not, but it would arguably make him the second-most valuable player on the team outside of LeBron James. That counts for something.
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