How stellar Kyle Kuzma has played as a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers has been one of the most pleasant surprises this season. In leading the team in scoring with 16.7 points per game while shooting a team-high 37 percent from 3-point range, Kuzma has already surpassed all expectations for his first campaign.
Still, cracks in Kuzma’s game were finally beginning to show in recent weeks. He intermittently appeared to be hitting the proverbial “rookie wall” as he struggled shooting the ball, making just 38.3 percent of his shots and 16.7 percent of his 3-point attempts over the Lakers’ last five games.
Kuzma finally heated up again in a 107-101 overtime victory over the Dallas Mavericks, scoring 18 points on 8-for-13 shooting while snaring 10 rebounds for his 10th double-double of the season.
After the win, he attributed a recent uptick in production to finally getting some rest, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“Luke gave us a day off, finally, so I think that contributes to it. I got off my legs a little bit. I feel like I’m back now. It felt good to see the ball go in the rim a couple more times the past week or two. It was good.”
Kuzma has repeated time and time again that he wasn’t tired when queried about it, saying that he doesn’t make excuses and that he’s always played a lot of basketball.
But the NBA is a higher level of basketball than Kuzma has ever played before, and he’s been thrown into the fire for 31.5 minutes a night multiple times per week. Even the most fit human being would get tired by that, and Kuzma is no exception.
With the Lakers not playing again until Monday after an early Saturday game in Dallas, Kuzma might even get a little bit more rest. If it allows him to find his legs for the second half of the season, it could be huge for Los Angeles.
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