The Los Angeles Lakers had hoped Kyle Kuzma would be a consistent scoring threat off the bench for them this season, acting as the de facto third go-to player alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
That hasn’t happened, as the Kuzma experience has largely been a roller coaster filled with highs and lows with little consistency. But how good is he really?
In this video, we break down Kuzma’s game (we looked at Danny Green last time) in order to get to the bottom of things and find out where he has been successful and where he has come up short.
For a Lakers team that is set on contending for a championship as soon as the NBA’s hiatus ends, it’s going to be critical that they get the most out of each and every player. With teams like the Houston Rockets, L.A. Clippers, Denver Nuggets, Utah Jazz, and Oklahoma City Thunder standing in their way in the West and the Milwaukee Bucks looming in the East, winning a championship is going to be no easy task.
That said, James and Davis have been fantastic, and betting against the Lakers if they can get their non-stars to step up would be a tough sell. Kuzma, in particular, will play a large role in determining the fate of the team. If he’s able to provide efficient scoring and finally become a true third option, the Lakers will hit another level as a team.
It will be on head coach Frank Vogel to find a way to get the most out of his squad and his rotations. A deep dive into the team’s advanced analytics reveals that, while Kuzma was envisioned as a microwave scorer off the bench who could keep the offense humming when James takes a rest, he needs James alongside him to be effective.
Both the eye test and the stats reveal that Kuzma essentially is the quality player that we thought he would be as long as James is controlling the offense. This allows Kuzma to maximize his skills as a cutter and provide open opportunities from behind the arc.
Speaking of which, one area that has held Kuzma back this season has been his shooting. He’s hitting just 37% of his wide-open threes and 27% of his open ones, which simply isn’t good enough on a championship team with two stars drawing attention.
If Kuzma can start finding the bottom of the net and Vogel maximizes his lineups, the Lakers will find themselves in a great spot come playoff time.