Almost three months ago to the date, the Los Angeles Lakers were tied for the fourth place in the Western Conference after a statement win over the Golden State Warriors at Oracle Arena.
Three months later, and the Lakers have been officially eliminated from playoff contention after losing 16 of their last 20 games, including nine of their last 10. Life comes at you fast.
Granted, it wasn’t as if the Lakers didn’t know their fate until they lost to the Nets on Friday, but the harsh reality has been hard for some players to grasp, like Kyle Kuzma.
“I wouldn’t imagine not making the playoffs (at the beginning of the season). We got derailed by a lot of injuries, and that pretty much sums up our season. At one point we were holding our heads high, in a great position, and that bug just came in and hurt us,” Kuzma said after L.A.’s loss to Brooklyn on Friday.
However, the season isn’t over for Kuzma just yet. Kuzma said he plans on using the final 10 games to keep improving his game.
“Just continue to get better, every single day. Put the work in and over the years accumulate all the work and just get better. I think I’ve done a pretty good job developing so far, but the good thing is there’s always room for growth,” Kuzma said.
Kuzma improved some parts of his game in second season with the Lakers, like field goal percentage, 2-point percentage, free-throw percentage and points per game, but he took a step back in some areas, with 3-point percentage being the most notable. Last season, Kuzma shot a respectable 36.6 percent from behind the arc on 5.6 attempts per game. This season, he’s shooting 30.3 percent on 5.9 attempts per game.
Kuzma has shown that he can still get his numbers up without having a reliable 3-point shot, but he’s a lot less valuable to the Lakers — who need shooting at every position — without it. The key for him this offseason will be re-discovering his form from behind the arc and continuing to show growth as a defender and playmaker.
Knowing how hard of a worker Kuzma is, it’s not unreasonable to think he’ll come back even better next year.
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