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Kyle Kuzma is using the summer to work on his ‘all-around game’ ahead of his third NBA season

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This summer is more than winning draft picks in purple jackets for Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers forward is going back to the basics to be a more-improved player by September.

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NBA: Sacramento Kings at Los Angeles Lakers Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 summer has been a rather busy one for Kyle Kuzma, even as the Los Angeles Lakers continue their six-year playoff drought. Atop the list of summer stops for Kuzma was testing out his luck in Chicago during the NBA Draft Lottery, where he told fans “Ya Welcome” for bringing home the fourth overall pick.

But now with the lottery commitments out the window, Kuzma is focusing on the fundamentals.

“(I’ve) just been focused on just the basics. Just reminding myself of the fundamentals of the game. Really taking it easy, and taking it slow and focusing on just little habits of my body, my body mechanics and then my shooting mechanics as well,” Kuzma said in an interview with Lakers.com from before the lottery.

The 23-year-old is coming off his second season in the NBA, where he had mixed numbers for the Lakers as he started to settle into a starter role.

Kuzma started 68 games for the Lakers in the 2018-19 season, four games short of doubling his rookie year starts, and had a slight uptick in several categories. However, he also had a drop-off in other key stats (mainly his 3-point accuracy).

Kyle Kuzma Season Average Comparisons

Season 2-Pointers Made 2-Pointers Attempted 3-Pointers Made 3-Pointers Attempted Total Points
Season 2-Pointers Made 2-Pointers Attempted 3-Pointers Made 3-Pointers Attempted Total Points
2017-18 4 7.9 2.1 5.6 16.1
2018-19 5.3 9.5 1.8 6 18.7
Stats per Basketball-Reference.com

Now, Kuzma is taking the summer to address the up-and-down numbers by working on the essentials that made him one of the Lakers’ most promising players.

Kuzma evolved to a play-maker last season, which didn’t go unnoticed by fellow Laker LeBron James. Kuzma gave credit to James’ presence for pushing him to a higher level of competition on the court. And even with the Lakers returning to their losing ways from the last several years in the end, Kuzma used his minutes to make an impact on the game.

By the last few weeks of the season, Kuzma was one of the most important players on the court for the Lakers (as well as one of the few remaining healthy ones). During the Lakers’ 111-97 loss to the Detroit Pistons, Kuzma’s career-high 10 assists were one of the few silver linings from the game.

Unlike the previous summer where he bulked up with Lonzo Ball, courtesy of workout regimens from Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, this year is more than just the footwork and shooting mechanics for Kuzma.

“Just my all-around game,” Kuzma said when asked if there was anything more specific he was working on. “(I) never really dial into one or two things. I try to just do everything and hopefully by the time September comes, people see the difference in my game and everything I’ve been working on.”

While Kuzma’s determination to be an all-around player is commendable, there’s one aspect in his game that needs to be addressed head on. During this past season, Kuzma averaged 5.5 total rebounds per game, whereas during his rookie year he averaged 6.3 total rebounds per game. The difference in averages is minor between the two seasons, but the amount of games where Kuzma reached double-digit rebounds in each season provides more insight.

During the 2017-18 season, Kuzma had 17 games where he recorded at least 10 rebounds — the most being 15 against the Dallas Mavericks in a 130-123 loss. This season, he only had three games where he recorded double-digit rebounds. Rebounding will never be what he’s known for, but chipping in a bit more on the boards would certainly be helpful for a player the Lakers are (nominally) starting at power forward, even if it’s just one possible area of improvement.

Whether or not his approach of being more aggressive on the glass is part of his summer workout, it’s something to look out for when the regular season gets underway.

It’s been a steady incline for Kuzma since his splash of a rookie year, and the upward trend from him is promising. As one of the central players of the Lakers’ young core, Kuzma has shined as the most consistent and — at times — flashiest.

It’ll be interesting to see what exact adjustments Kuzma made during the summer when September rolls around, and how those adjustments will help shape Year 2 of the LeBron James era with the Lakers. Whatever he ultimately ends up improving most, it seems like he’s leaving no stone unturned while searching for ways to get better, as he aims to be a more well-rounded player rather than just a scorer.

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