Kyle Kuzma has now been a part of the Los Angeles Lakers for three years. This season will be his fourth season with the team and in the NBA. Kuzma has exhibited a lot of growth and maturity with the Lakers. Going from his rookie year to the start of his fourth season, Kuzma has stuck to his creative ways in the paint and his slasher mentality.
Last season, Kuzma averaged fewer points than his two previous seasons but did see a positive average plus/minus statistic. This means that last season, Kuzma’s efficiency increased. Kuzma only averaged 25 minutes per game and still managed 12.8 points per game and a +3 plus/minus rating. Kuzma is bringing more to the court for the Lakers even though his minutes decreased.
When considering the Lakers’ championship team, they didn’t necessarily need Kuzma to play a full 40 minute game. This explains the minute reduction. The Lakers did need Kuzma to make his minutes count while he was on the floor. Kuzma did just that and provided a consistent scorer that could step in when the Lakers needed him.
In the Lakers’ preseason games, Kuzma is needed for those big minutes. For their first three preseason games, Kuzma has played 38 minutes, 40 minutes and 32 minutes. With LeBron James and Anthony Davis either not playing or on restricted minutes, Kuzma had to step in. So far, Kuzma has been putting up some good numbers. The first game, Kuzma recorded 18 points, two rebounds and five assists. Then he built on that performance in the second game with 25 points, six rebounds and four assists. During the last game, Kuzma still managed to score 23 points, grab three rebounds and dish two assists with less minutes than the first two games.
Many people have been focused on the new members of the Lakers’ squad and the talented Talen Horton-Tucker during preseason. It is important to also remember the consistent performers on the team, which it seems like Kuzma is trying to be. With more minutes on the floor and LeBron and Davis on restricted minutes, he has the opportunity for more touches. He has proven that he can score the basketball and be a threat for the team.
While Kuzma will most likely see a minute reduction during the regular season, this preseason is a good way for him to prepare. With reduced minutes, making the most out of his minutes is something that Kuzma will have to perfect. The Lakers need people to step onto the court and make a difference, not just fill a spot. If Kuzma can continue to make a positive impact he should continue to see minutes. The Lakers now have so many options that Kuzma must make sure that he continues to improve his efficiency on the floor. Giving Kuzma an idea of how he can benefit the Lakers most is going to be essential because there are new key players on the team. Kuzma may need some guidance from the coaching staff to be the most efficient player possible.
Statistics taken from espn.com and nba.com.