With the Los Angeles Lakers only having three centers on their roster, and a lack of a clear-cut backup, Kyle Kuzma is taking it upon himself to learn how to play the position.
As Kuzma has never played center, he has been trying to accelerate the learning process during training camp and preseason. With the 23-year-old being matched up against Nikola Jokic and Mason Plumlee against the Denver Nuggets, he believes he has improved through the first two games.
“I just really tried to look at the game film from Game 1 and switch it up Game 2,” Kuzma said after Tuesday’s loss. “Watched film of other small-ball fives in the league and just try to fix my mistakes. I think I did a much better job.”
During the 2017-18 season, Kuzma played different roles including both forward positions and he has the same mentality.
“It’s always a work in progress trying to learn multiple positions,” Kuzma explained. “For me, I’m just trying to learn and win. If that means play the five and show other parts of my game, that’s what it is.”
Despite the loss, head coach Luke Walton praised Kuzma’s improvement, especially on the defensive end. “I thought Kuz at the five was much better,” Walton offered, unprompted by a question. “Fronting, hands up, gliding, communicating. Did a much better job.”
During the offseason, there were concerns about the depth at center with JaVale McGee, Ivica Zubac, and Moritz Wagner. As McGee has played extremely well, Zubac has struggled and Wagner has been ruled out for the entire preseason due to an injury.
While LeBron James has previously played center for the Miami Heat and Cleveland Cavaliers, it is only for certain situations. Since McGee has only averaged 16.7 minutes in his career, the hope is Kuzma and Michael Beasley can fill out thee remainder of those minutes.