The Los Angeles Lakers have a team full of talented young players, which includes forwards Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma. While Ingram was one of the top prospects in the 2016 Draft and selected with the second overall pick, the somewhat unheralded Kuzma was a steal with the 27th pick this year.
Despite being drafted at very different spots, both have plenty of potential and appear to be solid pieces for the rebuilding Lakers. Ingram currently has a lock on the Lakers starting small forward position, but Kuzma has played so well in his short time with the team that some have started to question whether he should actually take over the spot.
Former NBA player and head coach Mark Jackson took part in a conference call with broadcast partner Jeff Van Gunday and said that ultimately, the Lakers need to play Kuzma and Ingram together in a smaller lineup rather than one or the other via Gianina Thompson of ESPN:
Looking at the Lakers, to me it’s about defending, competing and their habits. I think after you get through the first five, six teams in the Western Conference, the other two or three teams that make the Playoffs will be the hardest working ones, the best defending ones and the ones that compete on a nightly basis. That could be between four or five teams that have a legitimate chance, and I think that it’s up for grabs. It’s how bad do you want it rather than saying you want it. I thought it was awfully impressive. I think ultimately they will play Kuzma and Ingram together in a smaller lineup because it gives them versatility, scoring power, and play-making ability.
Jackson’s point is one that has been making the rounds lately. Kuzma has been the Lakers best forward so far this season (and arguably best player overall), but he continues to come off the bench.
In theory, a Lakers lineup with Ingram and Kuzma could be extremely versatile, which is exactly what NBA teams are looking for these days. Such a combination would likely come at the expense of one or both of Julius Randle or Larry Nance Jr, but long-term that may be the direction the Lakers need to go in order to win.