Anthony Davis has missed the Los Angeles Lakers last two games with injury and head coach Frank Vogel put in Kyle Kuzma as his replacement in the starting lineup — something he has responded greatly to.
Amid trade rumors and an eventual move back to the bench, Kuzma put up two of his best performances of the 2019-20 NBA season.
After Kuzma’s struggles to stay consistent have been documented all season, his two games in the starting lineup showed who he really is, averaging 31.0 points and 6.5 rebounds while shooting 52.1 percent from the field and 42.8 percent from the three-point line. He showed exactly what type of player he can be when given the opportunity.
Vogel spoke about whether or not these performances are flukes and he believes this is just Kuzma finally finding his rhythm after injuries and adjusting to a new role, according to Broderick Turner of Los Angeles Times:
“I think it’s real,” Vogel said. “Like I said, a lot of it is just he’s been hampered by the injuries and just struggling a little bit to try to find his rhythm. But since he’s been back, since we shut him down for a few games, he’s been playing at a really high level. A couple games where he didn’t really score the ball well, but hopefully this is just another step in that growth into that role, and hopefully he keeps it going.”
When asked if Vogel has spent time talking to Kuzma about his struggles, he said he tries to avoid it as he knows that patience is simply a part of the process with young players:
“I try not to. He’s a confident guy,” Vogel said. “A lot of people are trying to create sort of an issue, like, ‘What’s going on with Kuz?’ or ‘Why aren’t we getting more out of Kuz?’ and all that stuff. To me, it’s just a matter of time. Everybody just has to be patient, wait, it’s gonna continue to grow. The role’s gonna continue to grow, his comfort level’s gonna continue to grow and you’re gonna see performances like you saw tonight from him.”
Kuzma was able to stay on this team during the Davis trade because the Lakers saw real value in him on a championship team. And while the results haven’t been there consistently, it’s a long season and there’s still a full three months until the 2020 NBA playoffs.
Kuzma eventually does need to stay consistent and games like his two in the starting lineup will help to build some confidence when he heads back to the bench.