In his rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyle Kuzma defied the odds and made the All-Rookie First Team in favor of all but three of the 26 players drafted ahead of him. He also won the NBA Summer League Championship MVP earlier that year.
Kuzma built on his impressive rookie campaign by averaging career-highs in points per game (18.7), assists per game (2.5) and field goal percentage (45.6%). His strong sophomore season earned him a spot on the Rising Stars team for the second time in two years, and last year he was able to take home the game’s MVP.
This season, Kuzma is hoping to be at All-Star Weekend for a third consecutive year, but not to play in any Rising Stars Game or Skills Challenge. During Kuzma’s interview at Media Day on Friday, he said he wants to play in the big game on Sunday night.
“I want to get better. That’s the biggest thing. I’ve worked hard for the past two years and I think I have a lot of capabilities. For me, I want to be an All-Star. I’d probably say that’s one of my goals. That’s something I’ve got to work at and I don’t see why not,” Kuzma said.
Coming off of a promising — albeit brief — stint with Team USA this past summer, Kuzma does mostly seem primed to have another great season in Los Angeles, especially now that he has a pair of superstar teammates in LeBron James and Anthony Davis to take some of the attention off of him. However, the chances of Kuzma making an All-Star game anytime soon are slim-to-none for a few reasons.
For argument’s sake, we’ll assume Kuzma has a breakout season and averages 20 points, five rebounds and five assists per game next season. Of the 13 players that averaged 20 points, five rebounds and five assists last season, three of them were left off of the All-Star rosters: DeMar DeRozan, Jrue Holiday and Luka Doncic. That’s not to say there aren’t other ways of making the All-Star game, but it does give some context as to just how hard it is to make it, and Kuzma may face even more of an uphill battle depending on how long he misses with the recently revealed stress reaction in his foot.
Additionally, Kuzma plays in the worst conference for a young forward hoping to make an All-Star team. In the Pacific Division alone, Kuzma has to beat out Davis, James, Paul George, Kawhi Leonard and Draymond Green for a forward spot in the Western Conference. That’s not to mention the other talent forwards scattered across the West like LaMarcus Aldridge, Kristaps Porzingis and Danilo Gallinari.
Could Kuzma put up All-Star-worthy numbers next season? Absolutely, but will he be representing the Lakers at All-Star weekend? Barring a handful of injuries, it’s high unlikely.