Los Angeles Lakers rookie forward Kyle Kuzma has drawn praise for his preseason play from basically everyone who’s watched him play. From head coach Luke Walton, to teammate Brook Lopez, to other NBA front office execs who passed over him in the draft, everyone has been impressed with Kuzma.
Kuzma has mostly earned that praise as he’s forced his way into the Lakers’ future plans and shown he’s one of the most promising members of the team’s young core, and head coach Luke Walton explained why he thinks Kuzma has played so well after the Lakers’ Monday practice via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
“He’s a special young man, because he does a great job of recognizing his advantage,” Walton said. “If he has a big he’ll look to get into the paint by taking him off the dribble or space him to three. For a rookie he does a great job of taking advantage and recognizing those situations.”
Despite the positives, there are some things that Walton wants Kuzma to work on. In particular Kuzma is going to have to learn to stay within the offense more:
“He wants to do so much, he’s so excited to do it that a lot of it at the end of those games he’s stalling out the offense because he’s just picking and popping and that’s not what we want. So last night was a good learning experience for him as far as the defenses get a lot more difficult in the final two or three minutes, and that’s when you really have to rely on setting the screen and running the offense.”
Walton lauded Kuzma’s assertiveness before serving reminder at where it could get him in trouble, and that’s no accident. Kuzma’s confidence is in large part what’s driven him to realize his dream of playing for the Lakers, so of course Walton doesn’t want to take that away.
Walton wants Kuzma to build the right habits in order to be a cohesive and successful part of the Lakers’ team going forward. If Kuzma didn’t take over the offense sometimes he wouldn’t be Kuzma, but there are certain times to do it.
There is no reason yet to believe that their promising rookie won’t find that right balance, but it could take some time.