Kyle Kuzma has been a force on the glass for the Los Angeles Lakers to start this season.
Through 27 games, Kuzma has had seven games with at least 10 rebounds — more than he’s had in the last two seasons combined — and they’ve all been double-doubles. Five of those double-doubles came in games where he didn’t start, making him tied with Ivica Zubac and Miles Bridges for the most double-doubles off of the bench this season.
Kuzma’s still averaging fewer rebounds than he did in his breakout rookie season, but he’s averaging career-highs in total rebound percentage (13.8%) and offensive rebounds per game (1.8), the latter of which he thinks helps his teammates going.
“It just brings a lot of energy,” Kuzma said of his offensive rebounding on Friday, when he recorded 20 points and 10 rebounds in the Lakers’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies.
“I don’t really like standing in the corner too much possession after possession, so I just try to find ways to bring energy to the game. I’ve got a good nose for the ball and I’m just trying to find it and create second-chance opportunities for our ball club.”
Kuzma’s productiveness on the glass is new to us, but he believes it’s something he’s always had. In fact, he went as far as to say hasn’t prepared differently than he has in previous seasons. To him, it’s just as simple as doing it.
“I’m just trying to get the damn ball, really,” Kuzma said. “That’s really it. I’ve been blessed with a nose for the ball and figuring out where it goes off the rim, but other than that, just go get the ball.”
So why are we just seeing this side of Kuzma now? What changed? Well, for starters, his role.
In his first two seasons with the Lakers, Kuzma was a regular starter and the No. 2 option on offense more often than not. Since Anthony Davis’ arrival in 2019, though, he’s had to find a new role with the team; one that isn’t directly tied o his ability to put the ball into the basket.
While it’s still early in the season, it seems he’s found it.
“At the end of the day I’m just filling a role for this team that we kind of need,” Kuzma said. “We need energy coming off of the bench, and obviously we had some big bodies leave so from a rebound standpoint I’m picking up there, and then defensively I’m just trying to make my mark there. I’m just trying to be more of a complete player as the years progress, and just trying to be as great as I can be.”
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