Lakers News: Kyle Kuzma Playing ‘Free’ Without Avery Bradley, Rajon Rondo
Kyle Kuzma, Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

When Anthony Davis was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyle Kuzma knew he was going to have to learn how to play without having the ball in his hands quite as often.

However, the forward did not get much time in the offseason to adapt to his new role as he suffered a foot injury during his time with Team USA that sidelined him for the beginning of the 2019-20 season.

Kuzma eventually began to round into form late in the season, showing off the scoring ability he has flashed before. Aside from shooting the ball better, he also became much better at reading the defense and making plays for teammates.

With Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo both out of the equation, and even with the latter possibly returning for the playoffs, Kuzma admitted he has been able to stretch his wings on the court more.

“It just allows me to be a playmaker and have the ball in my hands instead of standing in the corner and being a space. It just allows me to be myself and play free,” he said.

Kuzma has been mentioned as one of the standouts in practices and that bodes well for the Lakers, as they will need his scoring off the bench to lighten the load for LeBron James and Davis.

Frank Vogel on Kuzma’s shooting and overall play

Kuzma has been consistently praised by his teammates and the coaching staff as a hard worker who is dedicated to improving every facet of his game. Kuzma recently revealed that entailed making a slight adjustment to his shooting form during the quarantine period.

One of the things he will need to do is space the floor for James and Davis when defenses key in on the superstar duo. After a stellar shooting performance in their scrimmage against the Orlando Magic in which Kuzma nailed five threes, head coach Frank Vogel said he has been constantly working on getting shots up.

“I wouldn’t overstate any kind of tweaks to his jump shot. He just works. All of our guys work on their shot, try little different subtleties to improve. It’s the repetition that he puts in, that’s the reason he’s making shots at a higher rate,” Vogel said.

While shooting and scoring will be Kuzma’s main responsibility, Vogel also revealed the coaching staff has been urging him to make the right play every time down.

“In terms of any tweaks to his game, we really have always been on him — and our whole group — about reading defense and just making the right play. If that means you come off and have nine or 10 assists and very limited shot attempts because that’s what the defense gives you, then that’s the right way to play,” Vogel explained.

“If the defense is not honoring and they’re giving you the shot, the right play to make is to go create. About a week in an intrasquad scrimmage, he had about four or five great passes in a row. I came over and I said, ‘I’m not going to tell you great job passing the ball. I’m going to come over and tell you great job reading the defense.’

“That’s all we want him to do, and he’s been doing a great job with it.”

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