It’s no secret Kyle Kuzma has struggled to remain consistent during the 2019-20 NBA season as the Los Angeles Lakers sixth man.
At times, Kuzma’s looked like an All-Star player but has also looked like he shouldn’t be on the court at all. However, Jared Dudley, who has become a fan favorite due to his willingness to speak on any number of issues, spoke about Kuzma’s game and what he’s appreciated about it.
Dudley plays the least amount of minutes per game for the Lakers, which means he’s had likely the closest look into Kuzma’s development as the season goes on. This is really important for Kuzma as being the youngest rotation player on the team, he needs someone to be a guiding voice.
Dudley praised Kuzma for improving other aspects of his game even when he struggles to get his shot going, specifically citing his rebounding and defensive hustle, via Inside The Green Room Podcast with Danny Green:
With @KingJames out Thursday night, @kylekuzma dropped 18 points vs the Warriors. In our newest episode with @JaredDudley619 , the veteran explained the challenges Kuz faces in being the Lakers 3rd option.
— Inside The Green Room (@GreenRoomInside) February 28, 2020
Dudley rightfully acknowledges that Kuzma has been struggling, but gives some context into those struggles. He used Kevin Love and Chris Bosh as examples to point out how difficult it can be to adjust and become a third option on a LeBron James-led team, especially when the second option is another All-Star player.
Dudley also brings up the fact that Love and Bosh at least had the opportunity to start, something Kuzma has rarely gotten the chance to do this season.
Despite that, Kuzma has shown improvement in other areas of his game, even if it is at the expense of his shooting percentages. He has become a solid defender when guarding non-ball dominant wings, and his help defense has improved as well. He is now much more willing to fight for rebounds and loose balls than he used to be.
It seems that slowly but surely Kuzma is learning how to play a role on a championship team. If he can keep his hustle and energy high while keeping his jumper serviceable, it could be massive for the Lakers in the 2020 NBA playoffs.