After proving to be a potent scorer during his rookie season, Kyle Kuzma went into the summer with a desire and directive from the Los Angeles Lakers to work on improving his all-around game.
In particular, the Lakers hoped to see Kuzma make strides on the defensive end. After the signing of LeBron James, it was highlighted as an integral component as the Lakers intended to utilize Kuzma as a small-ball center.
That came with its share of lumps which forced the team to abandon the strategy. And while Kuzma has grown as a defender, his calling card has remained scoring. That changed a bit in Friday’s loss to the Detroit Pistons.
After Kuzma finished with a career-high 10 assists, Lakers head coach Luke Walton praised the manner with which he set the table for teammates, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“I’ve seen the growth since he’s been here. He kind of goes in and out of it a little bit. Tonight, I thought was his best playmaking game by far, which is something we’ll talke. When he plays like that, to me, he’s at his best. His shot wasn’t going, he was still aggressive to score, but when the play was to make a pass, he was making a pass. He’s shown he’s a skilled passer. He has the height, the vision to be able to see that stuff. The more he can mix in the two styles of play, the better he’ll be, the better we’ll be.”
Playing in front of friends, family and children who attended his camp last summer in Flint, Mich., Kuzma had a bit of an off shooting night as he finished with just 12 points. He also added six rebounds, and the double-double was his fourth this season.
However, it was the first in which Kuzma did so with points and assists. Kuzma will head into play Sunday averaging 2.6 assists per game this season, which is up from 1.8 assists as a rookie.