The Los Angeles Lakers got back in the win column with their 107-97 victory over the Dallas Mavericks. While they are still dealing with injuries, Luke Walton’s team did welcome back Kyle Kuzma who had missed the previous two games with a lower back contusion.
Kuzma’s return was much-needed for the Lakers as he is undoubtedly the most offensively aggressive of the young core. That was on display in Dallas, though without much success as he shot just 4-of-20 from the field and finished with 13 points.
The poor shooting didn’t bother Walton however, as he believes just having Kuzma’s competitiveness out on the court rubs off on the rest of the Lakers, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“He was huge for us tonight. He hit some shots when we needed him too. He took a lot of shots, but just the way he’s attacking the rim and collapsing the defense, helps us get out and go. And he’s got such a good competitive energy about him, that I think it’s contagious as well.”
Walton certainly raises an interesting point. Kuzma never lacks for energy and aggression and is always in attack mode any time he is on the court. For as skilled as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball are, they don’t have that same mindset as Kuzma, and having that on the floor makes a difference.
Obviously, Ingram and Ball knew they really needed to step up as they spoke with one another before the Mavericks game about it. But having Kuzma on the floor, even if he isn’t hitting shots, changes things for everyone.
Ever since he was drafted, Kuzma has stood out not just for his skill on the court, but also his mindset. It’s a big reason as to why he’s the most popular of all the Lakers’ young stars and something Walton’s team misses when he’s off the floor.