The “Big 3” era in the NBA might be over, but Kyle Kuzma has said he believes he can be the third superstar on the Los Angeles Lakers alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But while Kuzma thinks he’s “capable” of being a star for the Lakers, he understands that he won’t be the star, and he doesn’t think he needs to be in order to make an impact.
During an interview with Rohan Nadkarni of Sports Illustrated, the third-year forward said he plans on doing the same things that have made him effective in the past, now alongside James and Davis:
Kyle Kuzma is well aware that he’s not expected to be a star player on a Lakers team that boasts LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“I’ve never been a guy that’s had the ball in his hands, ” Kuzma told Sports Illustrated. “Shooting the ball from three, running out in transition, cuts to the hoop, tip ins. There’s a reason why I’ve always played this game.”
Kuzma hasn’t been able to put that into practice yet because of a foot injury that has kept him off of the court in the preseason, but his absence has actually made it easier to see just how much he’s going to help the Lakers this season.
Kuzma took advantage of sharing the court with James last season by constantly moving off of the ball and getting open for a shot. As a result, James passed Kuzma the ball 11.2 times per game and assisted 2.2 of his baskets per game.
With Davis now at James’ disposal, Kuzma likely won’t be James’ favorite target on offense, but he gives the Lakers a legitimate, low-usage third option when opposing coaches build their game plan around James and Davis — as they should. When James and Davis aren’t on the court, Kuzma gives the Lakers a shot-creator, something they’ve clearly been lacking in the preseason.
There are still legitimate concerns as to whether or not Kuzma will able to hold his own on the defensive end this season, but on offense his fit with James and Davis is as good as anyone, especially if he can get his 3-ball to knock down with some semblance of consistency.
Plus, what better way to hide your shortcomings on defense than to be human dynamite on offense?