Kyle Kuzma has been somewhat of a divisive figure during the 2019-20 NBA season as he has clearly had his ups and downs on the court.
Kuzma came into his third season as an X-factor due to his scoring ability, a skill that is needed even on a team that features LeBron James and Anthony Davis. However, he has struggled to find his place in head coach Frank Vogel’s lineups as his touches and minutes are down and often times looks like he thinking too much.
However, Kuzma has flourished in games where the team is in clear need of a scorer and that was the case against the Golden State Warriors where he looked much more comfortable in the flow of the offense.
“I think we just locked in. Obviously we were disappointed with what happened in the first half. We didn’t really give that much effort, attention to detail, sense of urgency and kinda just came out and first unit set the tone and second unit followed them and prevailed.”
Kuzma was the team’s second-leading scorer behind Davis as he poured in 18 points on 8-of-17 shooting, constantly finding ways to attack off the dribble and finish in the paint with his repertoire of floaters and runners. The rest of the team also picked up the slack as five other players scored in double digits, shooting the ball well and making the extra pass that led to several good looks on the night.
Kuzma has been inconsistent on a nightly basis, but games against the Warriors are a good reminder of what he can do when given more touches and opportunities with the ball in his hands. So far, he has been dependent on James and Rajon Rondo to find him streaking in transition or cutting in the halfcourt, but he has proven he can take on more of the playmaking duties with the second unit.
In a playoff series where opposing defenses will take away what teams like to do on any given possession, players like Kuzma who can go out and get a bucket on their own are invaluable. Davis and James will be the focal point of any defensive plan, so Kuzma will need to use the last stretch of the season preparing for that role.