The Los Angeles Lakers had high hopes for Kyle Kuzma after signing him to a three-year extension coming off their title run in 2020.
Kuzma was expected to take on an increased role for the Purple and Gold on both ends of the floor. Unfortunately, he struggled to find his rhythm consistently as his efforts were magnified by the team’s disappointing first-round elimination from the playoffs.
Of course, it was not all bad for Kuzma, as he showed some notable improvement on the defensive end while doing some of the dirty work around the paint. Regardless, it is still a far cry from what both he and the team were hoping for out of this season.
There is plenty of speculation regarding Kuzma’s uncertain future in L.A. this offseason. He has made it clear that he will be looking for more consistency with his role heading into the 2021-22 season, via Bleacher Report’s Tyler Conway:
“My biggest thing is I just want to play within a consistent role,” Kuzma said. “If I have that ability, I’ll be able to showcase what I can really do. There were parts of this year—and even anywhere else in my career—when I’m in a consistent space, I’m out there handling the ball, making teammates better, scoring, shooting, defending, rebounding. I think if I’m in that space, I’ll be good.”
Kuzma established himself as an instant spark in the rotation early on thanks to his ability to provide a scoring punch when needed. However, he struggled to get going on offense this year and was forced to make up for it in other areas of the game.
While it is encouraging to see Kuzma develop into a more well-rounded player, the Lakers were clearly in need of a player with some scoring prowess. His comments indicate that the ever-changing role within the offense made it difficult for him to produce consistently.
Kuzma is the longest-tenured player on the team and the last member of a once-promising young core. Former teammates like Julius Randle, Brandon Ingram and Jordan Clarkson have since gone on to become star players for teams built around their skill sets.
The ball will be in the Lakers’ court when it comes to potentially putting together a trade package this offseason. Whether it is with the Purple and Gold or some other team, it will be interesting to see if Kuzma ultimately gets his wish.
Kuzma focused on adding handle to his game this offseason
The offseason began earlier than expected for the Lakers after being knocked out in the opening round. As disappointing as it was to be eliminated so early on, it will give this team an opportunity for some ample rest this offseason following a truncated 2020 campaign.
Kuzma plans on using this time to work on his ball-handling to expand his offensive repertoire.
I’m just super, super excited for this summer. The No. 1 thing that can really help me is adding a handle to my game,” Kuzma explained.
“I think that definitely limits me a little bit because I’ve shown great strides this year from a defensive standpoint making the right play. My playmaking has been better this year. I had a career year this year shooting from three. I think if I had a handle, it’s going to make everything come together, and that’s the No. 1 thing that I’m really harping on this year.”