When the Lakers were in the process of negotiating a trade for Anthony Davis, the player they preferred to keep out of the deal was Kyle Kuzma. Due to his ability to score at a high volume, his durability, and his low salary, Kuzma was a player that the Lakers fought hard to keep.
As it turns out, Anthony Davis is as much of a Kuzma fan as the rest of his new team. In his opening press conference as a Laker, Davis said, “Kuz is an unbelievable player. A young player who is steadily growing, always working on his craft. Anytime I’ve played against him, it was always great battles. He can shoot it, he can stretch the floor, he can put it down. He can finish, he’s got some post moves. So I’m very excited about playing alongside him.”
Davis is right about Kuzma bringing it when they have played against each other. In his six games against New Orleans, Kuzma averaged 21 points per contest, compared to his career average of 17.3. He also shot 52.3% from the field, 36.1% from 3-point range on 36 attempts, and 80.8% on 26 free throws. If Kuzma were always the player he is when he plays against Davis, the Lakers would already have a big three.
Davis also joins a long line of people who have lauded Kuzma’s work ethic. Tyson Chandler was very complimentary of the young Laker during his time on the team, Metta World Peace said that Kuzma reached out to him to improve his defense, and Team USA specifically brought in Kuzma because of the improvements he has made during his short professional career so far.
Perhaps the most interesting part of Davis’s statement, though, is that he said he was excited about playing alongside Kuzma. That could simply mean that he’s looking forward to the two of them being teammates even if Davis starts and Kuzma comes off the bench. However, it certainly seems like Davis is looking forward to sharing the floor with Kuzma, and that would require one of them not playing power forward at the time.
Davis is adamant that he views himself as a four and would rather not play the five, but it’s already been established that Kuzma is incapable of playing the center spot. That means either Davis is willing to be the center if it comes next to Kuzma or he views Kuzma as a potential small forward. Preferably, that means Davis would like to play in lineups with him and Kuzma as the bigs.
At the very least, it’s nice to know that Davis has so much confidence in Kuzma, which should help the young forward thrive on the court next year. Entering his third season, Kuzma has earned the respect and admiration of people around the league, but the praise means a little more coming from a superstar of Davis’ caliber.