Isaiah Thomas has now been with the Los Angeles Lakers for 12 games and the comfort level on all sides is beginning to show. For head coach Luke Walton’s young team, adding a veteran like Thomas has been huge as a number of experienced players that began the year in L.A. are now gone.
Thomas has already begun forging relationships with some of his young teammates, including rookie Kyle Kuzma. “He yells at me a lot,” said Kuzma with a laugh following practice on Monday. Thomas’ fiery demeanor is well known around the league, but Kuzma understands the value Thomas brings.
“He’s just a veteran, a guy you can count on. He’s been through the wars. Been through the playoffs, so he knows what it takes to win,” Kuzma added. “He’s a great resource to have out there. He helps all the young guys out for sure.”
Despite being on the opposite end of Thomas’ wrath, Kuzma believes that it helps him in the end. “I’m a competitive person and he’s really competitive. We both want to win. It’s always a good and a bad thing to get animated like that because, one, it keeps you on your heels more. It just helps you come together more.”
Thomas has been solid for the Lakers so far, averaging 15.9 points and 5.7 assists while accepting a role off the bench. Just as important for Walton, has been Thomas being an extension of the coaching staff on the court.
“The thing about Isaiah that’s so good for our team is, everything that we’re yelling at the players from the bench about, he’s actually on the court telling them the same things as far as getting them to the right spots,” Walton explained. “It’s really nice having him out there as far as keeping us structured and organized with what we’re trying to do.”
Walton recently said that he believes this Lakers team could compete for the playoffs next season without any additions, and Thomas is a big reason why. His efficiency hasn’t been great so far, but he has brought a lot of other things to the table that his teammates and coaches appreciate.
No one knows what his future holds, but for the time being Thomas seems to be making a big impact on this Lakers team. As for Thomas’ fiery demeanor, Kuzma was let off the hook for at least one night.
“He didn’t yell at me [Sunday], we were all good,” he said. “Just more excited because he was barking at Cleveland’s bench the whole time.”
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