With the Los Angeles Lakers now down two guards that had been part of their rotation all season, much of the focus on the team has been on the backcourt.
That has taken some away from arguably the team’s biggest x-factor as it looks to bring home a championship, third-year forward Kyle Kuzma. Coming into the season Kuzma was viewed as the Lakers’ potential third star, but his season has been somewhat disappointing.
The addition of Anthony Davis forced Kuzma into a much different role off the bench. Additionally, an offseason injury cost him to miss training camp and the beginning of the season.
It put Kuzma in an even more difficult position of trying to figure out his new role on this team. The fact that some of Kuzma’s draft class is one of the best in recent memory, with the likes of Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo and Donovan Mitchell already being All-Stars, has many waiting for Kuzma to take that leap.
Lakers teammate Jared Dudley understands that Kuzma is in a much different role than his counterparts, yet still as key.
“He can get a lot better. He’s a young player but he brings a lot to the table right now,” Dudley noted. “He’s in a difficult predicament because a lot of his counterparts at his age, they’re on teams without established superstars and are getting bigger roles. He certainly is capable of that, but his role is going to be different on this team.”
With LeBron James and Davis on the roster, Kuzma’s scoring opportunities have obviously decreased. But Dudley believes he has accepted his role and this could ultimately help him in the long run.
“He’s had great acceptance of trying to find ways to contribute to winning basketball and has had a great attitude about it. It’s actually helping to round out his game, so to speak, rather than just focusing on scoring,” Dudley explained.
“The defense, the rebounding, hustle plays, they’re all things maybe you’re not focused on as much if you’re young and the focal point of an offense. I think in the long run this is ultimately going to really help his career.”
Despite his numbers being down across the board, Kuzma’s effort and energy has never waned. The young forward has made a big impact with some huge rebounding games, not to mention a concerted effort to improve his defense and playmaking.
The Lakers will need every side of Kuzma if they plan on bringing home the championship.
Kuzma views Kawhi Leonard as example of young player contributing to championship team
Many considered Kuzma to have potential to be a future star, but his new role on this team with Davis and James at the forefront has led to a decrease in numbers across the board. But Kuzma hasn’t lost his focus on what he can bring.
Kuzma has some inspiration as far as a model to follow for his success, and it just so happens to be one of the best players in the league today.
“I just look at Kawhi Leonard, for example, he was a Spur for four or five years — whatever it was — waited his turn behind Duncan, Ginobli and Parker, and then did his thing,” Kuzma recalled.
“I just take it with a progression mindset and mentality of trying to get better every day. I focus on what I can control, and my time is coming.”
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