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Skills science: How Kyle Kuzma became an elite rebounder

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I detailed five reasons why Kuzma has become not just one of the best positional rebounders on the Lakers, but one of the best in the NBA.

NBA: Brooklyn Nets at Los Angeles Lakers Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Kyle Kuzma was a self-described “zombie” on the court at times with the Los Angeles last season, relegated to the corner in the offense and sticking there. However, Kuzma has been extremely lively this season, whether it’s cutting off the ball to his defensive work rate and, perhaps most impressively, his rebounding.

Here’s what the numbers say, courtesy of superb Lakers writer Alex Regla’s weekly newsletter “Throwdowns”:

According to the Cleaning the Glass, he has never once finished a season with a fgDR% (percentage of opposition’s misses a player rebounds) over 14.7% nor a fgOR% (percentage of his team’s misses a player rebounds) over 3.6%

This year however, Kuzma is not only currently sporting a fgDR% of 15.6% but as of this newsletter, he also is in possession of a staggering fgOR% of 7.5%

The latter not only ranks in the 97th percentile among forwards this season, but among those who have played in at least 500 minutes, his current rate is the highest in the league.

Rebounding is most certainly a skill so I went through the film to break down what underlies Kuzma’s elite rebounding progress and came away with five key reasons:

My goal is to produce these “Skills Science” segments to highlight certain trends and patterns over the course of the season and hopefully they provide a little more detail about the technical aspects of movement, skills and the game of basketball itself.

In the meantime, what were some elite skills, plays and details that stood out to you? Let me know in the comments below this post.

Dr. Rajpal Brar has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for 1.5 years. Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), and analyzes the Lakers from a medical perspective for Silver Screen and Roll and Laker Film Room. You can follow him on Twitter at @3cbPerformance.