Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is in his fourth NBA season and will likely continue to be under the microscope as he figures out to best fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Lakers head coach Frank Vogel did a remarkable job last season carving out a perfect role for Kuzma, one that he took in stride during the Walt Disney World bubble.
However, there was no way around the fact that Kuzma appeared to slip a couple spots on the team’s depth chart with the arrivals of Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder. Kuzma admitted before the season began that he had “no idea” what his role would be this season.
Vogel responded and tried to give some better context. “I spoke to him about that. He was just referring to he’s not sure if he’s starting yet or coming off the bench,” Vogel recently said.
“We will probably have some fluidity with how we use the many weapons in our arsenal this year. The No. 1 thing with Kuz in terms of this team is to bring energy on both ends of the floor. He knows what we’re asking him to do offensively: be more aggressive in catch-and-shoot situations, playing through him some, but also complementing ‘Bron and A.D., and continuing to grow on the defensive end.
“That much is clear to him. Where he’s going to fall in terms of starting role or coming off the bench is still to be determined and will likely be fluid throughout the year.”
More recently, Vogel said Kuzma is who will be the starter whenever Davis or James misses a game. That was also the case this week when Kentavious Caldwell-Pope remained on the mend from a sprained left ankle.
Some uncertainty was eliminated when Kuzma and the Lakers completed a three-year contract extension just before the beginning of the season. While certainly a positive for both sides, Vogel didn’t believe it would affect Kuzma’s play.
“I think you can deduct that, but I never felt like his contract situation has ever driven Kuz,” he said. “Kuz comes to work every day looking to play the game of basketball at a high level. The fact that he signed a contract, I really don’t think that’s going to change his approach or anything about him.
“He’s going to come in and do whatever is asked of him to help the Lakers win basketball games. I don’t think that’s going to be any different now.”
Davis holds high expectations for Kuzma
Now in his fourth season, there is an expectation Kuzma will show signs of growth. Davis in particular is confident in Kuzma.
“He developed his shot tremendously from last year to this year. He’s been playing well this preseason and he’s only going to continue to get better,” Davis said.
“It’s going to be a big year for him, he’s going to play a bigger role for us this year, and we need him to continue to do what Kuz do.”
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