Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma has been a nostalgia-production factory Los Angeles Lakers fans this season, whether it’s the way he’s emulated Kobe Bryant’s jersey bites or publicly asking the team to play a preseason game at the Fabulous Forum in Inglewood next season.
But Kuzma hasn’t just made fans think of the team’s successful past with his gestures and words, he’s done it with his actions as well. Especially with his use of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s patented sky hook while swooping through the lane to score.
The move is a large part of what’s allowed him to impress as the Lakers’ second-leading scorer in his first NBA season. Kuzma’s shot isn’t exactly like Abdul-Jabbar’s, but he’s one of the few players to even attempt the shot in some time, and he told Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group that’s why he didn’t really bust it out before he got to the NBA:
“People used to make fun of me for shooting it,” Kuzma said, “because they were like, ‘Man, that’s an old shot.”
“Now it’s pretty effective,” Kuzma said. “I talk to them still and it’s pretty funny but they don’t laugh no more.”
People stopped laughing because the shot has been one of Kuzma’s best. He has scored on 43 of his 76 hook attempts this season (56.6 percent), his fourth-most effective type of shot behind dunks (80.6), alley-oops (80) and finger rolls (64.3).
Kuzma’s sky hook might look a little different than what most players are shooting today, but it was only a matter of time before someone brought back Abdul-Jabbar’s signature move. If he keeps having success with it, he just might start a resurgence around the league.
Even if he doesn’t manage to create a comeback for the shot, at the very least his success with the sky hook has silenced any laughing about it.