The Los Angeles Lakers retained Kyle Kuzma in the Anthony Davis blockbuster trade in hopes that he would blossom into the third All-Star player on the Davis and LeBron James-led roster.
And while that has yet to come to fruition, Kuzma has shown flashes of what he can be for this team, especially with his huge Christmas Day performance in the loss to the Los Angeles Clippers.
Despite his lack of consistency, Kuzma (when healthy) has played a major role for a Lakers team that should be competing for a championship when the 2020 NBA playoffs arrive. This is something that not many third-year players can say, especially when they were late first round draft picks with minimal expectations to begin with. Kuzma is dealing with personal highs and lows, but still has the benefit of playing on one of the league’s best teams.
For Kuzma, playing on a championship contender is something he’s had a blast doing as getting wins consistently takes away a lot of the stress that comes from losing, according to Marc J. Spears of The Undefeated:
“It’s a lot less stressful going home every night when you win than when you are losing,” Kuzma said. “It brings a lot more joy to you.”
In a more on-court setting, Kuzma says that having two players who demand as much attention as they do really changes the efficiency of the shots he’s able to get and that in turn has helped to improve his game:
“It’s fun. It’s different. Those guys just demand so much attention on the court. … Efficient easy shots are there for the taking. It’s been a blast. You can’t really complain too much.”
Should Kuzma remain on the roster, he will absolutely benefit from the gravity that James and Davis have when they’re on the court, especially in lineups that include all three players. If the Christmas Day game was just a small indication of what Kuzma can be, then the Lakers may have huge success in keeping him.
However, until the February trade deadline, the idea of moving Kuzma to get a more established player will be looming, and he’ll have to figure out how to play through that. He’s had some experience in this after last season’s situation with the Davis trade, but it will be different this time with him being the only name discussed consistently.
This is the nature of the NBA and if Kuzma can be successful in spite of it, he’ll be able to convince the Lakers to keep him. And then, he’ll be able to show what he’s capable of as their third option when the playoffs arrive in April.