The Los Angeles Lakers finally got their first preseason win when they beat the Sacramento Kings 75-69 in Las Vegas Sunday. Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma was once again the star for the team, putting up 15 points, eight rebounds and three assists while making several critical plays down the stretch.
That type of production from Kuzma is nothing new at this point, as his play has been one of the biggest positives for the Lakers so far and ranks eighth in the entire NBA preseason in scoring with 19.5 points per game.
Lakers center Brook Lopez had a front row seat for Kuzma’s performances while nursing a back injury during the Lakers’ first three preseason games before returning Sunday night and getting to play with him, and the big man said at the team’s Monday practice that he likes what he’s seen from the rookie so far via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
“It’s amazingly impressive. Obviously we saw glimpses of it in summer league, just showing how special he would be. He has the right confidence and a great opportunity here to go out and do special things for us. He definitely plays the right way.”
It’s early, but the way Kuzma has played has resulted in him looking like the steal 2017 NBA Draft so far. It’s only four preseason games, but its still highly unusual for athletic, rangy, 6’9 forwards who can shoot threes and defend multiple positions to drop all the way to the end of the first round of the draft.
The confidence Lopez cites is almost just as unusual for a player so young and unheralded, and while Kuzma will have to keep this up for a while longer to snatch a spot in the starting lineup, he and Lopez could be an interesting pairing.
Adding Kuzma to the starting lineup would give the Lakers above-average shooting from every position on the floor, which could go a long way towards allowing them to surprise some teams with pace and shooting this season.