Kyle Kuzma made his season debut for the Dallas Mavericks on Friday and, as expected, he looked rusty. However, the third-year Los Angeles Lakers forward is still regarded as one of the most exciting young prospects in the NBA, which is why Rick Carlisle was less than enthused to see Kuzma’s name on the active roster.
While Carlisle was glad Kuzma was healthy, he said pregame that he was hoping his Mavericks wouldn’t have to deal with his shot-making (via Bill Oram of The Athletic):
“I’m not looking forward to seeing him,” he said, “but I am happy he’s healthy because he’s a great young star.”
That’s high praise coming from Carlisle, who has two, actually young stars in his roster in Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis, who combined for 47 points, 22 rebounds and 15 assists in a loss against the Lakers on Friday night.
Luckily for Carlisle, Kuzma didn’t come anywhere near the 15.3 points per game he averaged against Dallas last year. In 19 minutes, Kuzma tallied 9 points on 3-8 shooting from the field. He also finished the night with the worst box plus-minus on the team (-6).
Again, it’s hard to fault him because it was his first game back, but it’s all the same in the box score. Kuzma’s next opportunity to show out in front of Carlisle will be in exactly one month, when the Mavericks will visit the Lakers at Staples Center on Dec. 1.
Hopefully by then, Kuzma will resemble the player that notched one of his four double-doubles last season against Dallas. If not the Mavericks may just even up the season series thanks to their two young stars.