This season has been a bit of a roller coaster for Kyle Kuzma. On some nights, he looks likes the third star the Lakers were hoping he’d be alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis. On others, it’s easy to forget he’s in the game.
Monday night was one of those forgettable game for Kuzma, as he contributed just 13 points on a lowly 4-12 shooting from the field. On the season, he’s averaging 13.2 points per game on 43% shooting from the field, which are both career-lows for the third-year forward.
But Kuzma’s shooting struggles haven’t stopped him from making an impact for the Lakers this season. In fact, even in spite of his inefficient shooting, he’s posted a career-high net rating of +5.4. His previous career-high was -1.3.
That number has a lot to do with the fact that he’s sharing the court with more talented players this season, but to Kuzma’s credit, he’s also done the little things that are necessary to maximize the talent he’s been on the floor with.
In a recent interview with Bill Oram of The Athletic, Kuzma talked about his new role on a star-studded team, and the challenge of picking his shots:
“It’s not about points,” Kuzma said. “It’s about just trying to win. Obviously everybody’s got to sacrifice and that’s just for the betterment of the team. When I have scoring opportunities, I take them, attack them and if it doesn’t happen it doesn’t happen. It’s just the way with how our team is constructed and I just got to find a way, and find ways to contribute to winning basketball.”
Kuzma has the right mindset, but those little things can’t be all he contributes to the team. Above all else, the Lakers need Kuzma to be a prolific scorer off the bench, and if he’s not making his shots, the gap between him and someone like Jared Dudley becomes a lot smaller.
Hopefully Kuzma finds that balance sooner rather than later, as the Feb. 6 trade deadline is a little over two weeks away, and the Lakers are in win-now mode.