There weren’t many positives to be taken away from the Los Angeles Lakers’ loss to the Washington Wizards, but fourth-year forward Kyle Kuzma continued to show his growth as an overall player this season.
On this night it was Kuzma’s passing that stood out, as he notched a season-high eight assists to go along with 11 points and seven rebounds. Kuzma has taken great strides in many different areas of his game this season, showing massive improvements in his rebounding and defense in addition to his passing.
Head coach Frank Vogel gave Kuzma a ton of praise following the game for his growth in those areas. “Yeah, he’s been great. He’s been great all year,” the Lakers head coach said. “Just the positivity that he brings to our team, doing whatever the team needs for us to get Ws and staying aggressive and making the right reads.
“That’s the biggest thing with him. We know he can score but we want him to make the right basketball play each time down. Sometimes that’s gonna be getting to the basket, shooting catch-and-shoot threes, sometimes the help comes and he’s got to make the right play. You saw that with the eight assists so very pleased with how he’s playing.”
Kuzma has been under massive scrutiny over the past couple of seasons as the Lakers brought in LeBron James and Anthony Davis. In his first two seasons Kuzma was a primary option, and switching to a much smaller role alongside two superstars like them can be a difficult adjustment.
It has taken some time, but Kuzma looks far more comfortable now and it is showing in his performances, especially those in which he struggles to score. Kuzma’s work ethic has been apparent since he entered the league and his growth this season is proof of that.
As Vogel noted, the Lakers have been looking for Kuzma to make the right basketball play and he is far more likely to do that now. He has shown the ability to make an impact defensively, on the glass and as a playmaker while still being a capable scorer who can get hot at any moment.
Vogel trusts Kuzma in any role in any position and as the team inches closer to full strength, Kuzma’s versatility will bode well in whatever lineup the head coach chooses.
Kuzma talks necessary sacrifice to win championships
For his part, Kuzma is willing to take on whatever role is necessary for the Lakers to reach their ultimate goal. With Davis back and James on the way the roles and minutes for a lot of players will fluctuate, but Kuzma believes everyone must accept that in order to win the championship at the end of the year.
“It’s all about sacrifice. That’s something I really learned about last year,” he said. “I think that’s something I struggled with last year.
“I was hard on myself and down a little bit, but I had great teammates that stuck with me and I figured it out. Now is not the time to be harping on yourself and if you don’t play you don’t play. Just cheer on your teammate. We’re trying to win championships right now.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!