Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma could have spent the summer working on his game alone, but that wouldn’t have helped the things he wants to get better at as much as playing for USA Basketball is right now.
Kuzma has said he’s focused on getting better at defending, rebounding and “playing the right way” during his time with Team USA. And it should be noted that all of that is great, but one other thing that is a question mark heading into next season — in the wake of a prior campaign in which he only shot 30.6% on 3-pointers — is how Kuzma will space the floor.
Kuzma told Kyle Goon of the O.C. Register that he’s been working on addressing that query, and detailed some of the specific changes he’s tried to make to his shot over the summer and with Team USA:
“Keeping it high, using my wrists and be strong flicking it, use my legs,” he said. “I don’t want to be overthinking it. Just those three things, and trust the process.”
It is always foolhardy to overreact to offseason videos of players shooting unguarded jumpers, but Kuzma does seem to be consistently sticking with the techniques he describes in practice at the very least:
Kuzma getting his shooting to tick back upwards towards the 36.6% he shot from behind the arc as a rookie would be huge for the Lakers, and allow the team to have even more options to give Anthony Davis and LeBron James the spacing they need to be at their most devastating. If coupled with strides in the other areas Kuzma has tried to work on, he really might be in for a breakout third-year campaign.
There is still a long way to go before all that can be considered a likelihood, but Kuzma at least seems to be taking the right steps and working on the correct things so far, which is all the organization and its fan base can really ask for in mid-August. Now we just have to wait and see if it translates when the shots — and everything else — start to count.