This season has been strange for Kyle Kuzma. While he’s improved in several small areas for the Los Angeles Lakers, like isolation defense, his offense is the worst it’s ever been.
Through 54 games this season, Kuzma has averaged 12.5 points per game on 43.2 percent shooting from the field, including 29.7% shooting from behind the arc, while averaging 24.6 minutes per game — all career-lows. All the while, he’s posted the best net rating of his career (+5.3) while playing alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Kuzma isn’t the player that the Lakers, the fanbase or even he thought he would be at this stage of the season, but he’s found ways to help the team, and during an appearance on ESPN’s “First Take” on Wednesday, he talked about James and Davis’ role in his improvement:
“For me, it’s all about trying to add the win to championship basketball, something different than I’ve really had in my young career. Over the first two years, it was just that development: get in, just try to get your feet in. Then, you jump into a situation where the only thing that matters is winning, so you just try to build championship habits. This year, I got a taste of that and kind of developed that mentality. Obviously, playing behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James — for me, as a young player — it could have been a little different.
“Young players, they want to continue to put their name in, develop and have these high accolades, but, for me, I got a chance to have a backseat to the best two players in the NBA and really learn from them, and see what they do on a daily basis, how they approach the game. For me, I think this whole experience this past season has really boded well for my career.”
The next step for Kuzma will be to take the things he’s learned and find a way to make it part of his game as opposed to his entire game. Yes, it’s nice that Kuzma is starting to do the little things that make a difference in a game, but they could also use his shooting and shot creation off the bench.
Let’s hope that Kuzma has a hoop at home, because it would benefit him to work on his jumper with the free time he now has. If he needs a reference point, he can just watch these highlights from his rookie season.
Seriously, what happened to this guy?