Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma made his debut for USA Basketball on Friday in a friendly Blue vs. White scrimmage at the T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas and while his team comfortably won 97-78, he hardly played.
USA Basketball head coach Gregg Popovich held Kuzma to just 9:50. The only players that played less than Kuzma were Mason Plumlee and PJ Tucker. Luckily for Kuzma, he made the most of his limited time on the floor.
In the 9:50 he played, Kuzma scored seven points on 3-4 shooting from the field and grabbed four rebound, just one shy of the team-high. Torrey Craig of the White Team led all players with eight rebounds.
Kuzma also posted a box plus-minus +11. Sure, it might have just been a scrimmage, but Kuzma showed he belonged when he was on the floor. However, for Kuzma to get consistent playing time, he’s going to have to show he can stay in front of his man.
It was a small sample size, Kuzma clearly struggled to keep up with Marvin Bagley III of the Sacramento Kings, a mobile, 6’11” big man. While there aren’t many players like Bagley overseas, the point still stands: Kuzma has hard time defending power forwards, especially when they’re quick.
Hopefully Kuzma shows more signs of life in that regard when Team USA takes on Spain at the Honda Center in Anaheim on Friday, August 16. If not, it’s going to be incredibly difficult for him to make the final, 12-man roster.