USA Basketball held their first practice at the UCLA Health Training Center on Tuesday night, the same place Kyle Kuzma—one of 15 finalists hoping to crack the FIBA Basketball World Cup roster—and the Los Angeles Lakers practice during the season.
Following practice, Kuzma caught up reporters to talk about a number of topics, including the season ahead. Next season, Kuzma will be expected to assume the role of the third star alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, who have 21 All-Star appearances between them.
While Kuzma has yet to take the floor with James and Davis, he already has an idea of what his role will be, and he doesn’t think it will be much different from what his role was last year (via Lakers.com):
“Just being able to hit open shots. Obviously ‘Bron and AD are going to have a lot of attention—a lot of the defense is going to be geared on those guys—so just being able to do what I’ve been doing. Nothing different: Hit shots, being a great cutter and running the floor and being a good teammate.”
Kuzma has the right idea as to what will be expected of him next season, but there are legitimate concerns about whether or not he’ll actually be able to fill that role.
One of the more disappointments developments from last season was Kuzma’s digression from behind the 3-point line. Through 70 games, Kuzma shot just 30.3 percent from 3-point territory, including an abysmal 31.9 percent on his wide-open 3-point attempts, according to NBA.com. Compare that to his rookie season, when he converted 39 percent of his wide-open 3-point attempts.
It’s no secret that Kuzma can move without the ball and get open, but if he’s not scoring at an efficient clip when he’s fed the ball, James and Davis will have to find someone else to kick it out to.
Hopefully it doesn’t come to that and Kuzma shows signs of life from 3-point range in his next outing with USA Basketball Friday at the Honda Center in Anaheim.