With only one game remaining, Los Angeles Lakers have all but secured top spot in the Western Conference and Pacific Division with a 52-18 win-loss record and a .743 win percentage. Despite their dominance all season, the Lakers have experienced a rough patch since the NBA restart. In seven games after the NBA restart, the Lakers have only managed to pick up three wins. The Lakers’ 124-121 win over Denver Nuggets in their recent match saw them end a run of three consecutive games without a win.
The recent win over the Nuggets saw young talented Power Forward Kyle Kuzma, who featured in the starting line-up in the absence of the injured Caldwell-Pope, grabbed the headlines with his game-winning 3-pointer to ensure that the Lakers returned to winning ways. He also finished the game against Denver Nuggets with an impressive 25 points, six rebounds, and three assists behind LeBron James (29 points) and Anthony Davis (27 points). It was the first time since 2013 the Lakers had three players hit that scoring mark in a game.
For Kuzma, the NBA restart has been an excellent opportunity for him as he has shone in the recent games he has played that he is good enough to become the main man for the Lakers in the absence of star duo LeBron James and Anthony Davis. He also recorded the highest points (21) for the Lakers in their recent 113-97 loss to Houston Rockets.
We take a look at Kyle Kuzma’s performances for the Lakers throughout the season and assess if he is worth the hype.
Kyle Kuzma’s stats this season
In his third season with the Lakers, the 25-year old Kuzma has seen little game time. The arrival of Anthony Davis, coupled with Head Coach Frank Vogel’s preference of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the starting line-up, has seen Kuzma rarely start for the Lakers this season. He also had some injury problems because of the lingering effects of a stress reaction he suffered in his left foot last summer before the start of this season. Out of his 61 appearances for the Lakers this season, Kuzma has only started nine times this season.
Despite the limited action on the court this season, Kuzma has managed to average 12.8 points per game, 4.5 rebounds per game, and 1.3 assists per game for the Lakers. He also has the third-highest average points per game numbers in the Los Angeles Lakers team behind Anthony Davis and LeBron James. In total, Kuzma has recorded 782 points, 273 rebounds, 80 assists, 26 blocks, and 28 steals. He also has a 31.6% for 3-Point Field Goal percentage. He has also recorded 668 Field-Goal attempts this season.
Is Kyle Kuzma worth the recent hype?
Kyle Kuzma’s impressive performances for the Lakers after the NBA restart comes as no surprise. He has always been a player who has had the talent and potential to become one of the top NBA prospects in the future. He made significant contributions and improved his game for the Lakers last season.
Despite being overshadowed by LeBron James, Kuzma averaged 18.7 points per game, 5.5 rebounds per game, and 2.5 assists per game in 70 games, starting 68 times. He also recorded a .456 for Field-goal percentage and .303 for a 3-point field-goal percentage. Kuzma’s numbers from last season prove how efficient and integral Kuzma can be if he continues starting for the Lakers.
Kuzma’s performances in Orlando after the NBA restart has provided a glimpse of how good he can be if he regularly features in the starting line-up with LeBron and Davis. Los Angeles Lakers have a 2-1 win-loss record when James, Davis, and Kuzma all score 20-plus points this season. Kuzma’s style of play complements that of LeBron and Davis and also offers Coach Vogel additional firepower in the Lakers’ attacking department.
What’s next for Kyle Kuzma?
With the Lakers having secured the top spot of the Western Conference and a playoff qualification already, Kyle Kuzma will be looking to become a consistent starter in the playoffs. Based on his recent performances, it will be difficult to bet against him to start for the Lakers in the playoffs regularly. However, he might not get the chance to start as Head Coach Frank Vogel, in his post-match interview after the game against the Nuggets, stated that Kuzma might drop back to the bench once Caldwell-Pope recovers from the injury he has sustained in his right foot. Vogel’s statement could also help Kuzma take his game to the next level and become a prominent player for his team in the playoffs.