On the last day of the 2018-19 NBA season, Magic Johnson resigned as the Los Angeles Lakers president of basketball operations.
Since then, the Lakers managed to trade for Anthony Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans to pair with LeBron James. In addition, they did this while keeping Kyle Kuzma, one of the major assets of the team’s young core.
Sadly, Kuzma is being forced to miss the start of the new season due to a stress reaction in his left foot, which means the Lakers have already had to play two games without him. They’ll for sure have to play more as Kuzma has not yet been cleared to practice.
However, when Kuzma returns, Johnson believes that he will be huge for Davis and James.
Johnson believes that Kuzma’s return will take a lot of pressure off the All-Star duo, via “Undisputed” with Skip Bayless and Shannon Sharpe:
“Kyle Kuzma’s gonna take a lot of pressure off both of them. You need the other scorer in there and a guy that can stretch the floor as well and Kyle Kuzma can do that … I see him working in the gym, I’m talking about a gym rat … Anybody would love to play with Kyle Kuzma. He is a guy that loves the lights.”
When the Lakers whiffed on Kawhi Leonard in 2019 NBA free agency, many wondered what the drop off was on the team’s roster after Davis and James. They also wondered who would pick up the pressure of trying to be that third All-Star player.
No matter which way it was broken down, Kuzma ended up being the answer. As a result, he is going to have a ton of pressure on himself when he returns since he has already been anointed their third All-Star player. However, that inherently means he will be taking the pressure off Davis and James.
Davis and James having a consistent 18-20 points per game scorer alongside them will be huge, especially one like Kuzma that can create his own shot off the dribble.
Danny Green will be an extremely viable third option in the meantime but over the long term, it’s a lot easier for the third option to be a player that can create his own shot.
And it seems as though Johnson believes that Kuzma will be that player.