Why and How Kuzma Is Having Such A Big Impact On The Lakers

kyle kuzma los angeles lakersWhy is Kyle Kuzma, a 6’9” three-year player out of Utah having such a big impact for the Lakers? So far he’s shooting 51 percent from the floor, averages 15.2 points per game and 6.8 rebounds per game.

Perhaps all those years in college were what helped him make a smoother transition into the NBA, and turned Kuzma into a more mature, polished player that was ready to help the Lakers immediately.

But even looking at his career in Utah is surprising how well Kuzma has adapted to the NBA and how much he’s improved since leaving his alma mater.

In college he had good post moves, could drive to the hoop, he used to show a nice court vision, and occasionally he would let a shot go from deep.

His numbers in college were a bit modest, but he did have a nice rebounding volume with 5.5 rebounds per game.

His role in the Utah offense was a bit old school as he spent a lot of time setting ball screens and posting up, but there was enough evidence of his abilities and skills to suspect that once he got on the floor with other NBA pros he would unlock more of his potential.

One reason that his numbers were limited in Utah was that there were not a lot of creators in that lineup, guys that could break down the opposing defenses, force rotations and allow him to attack the basket off the catch.

But it didn’t take Kuzma long to adjust to the speed and spacing of NBA games. Suddenly with better talent and shot creators around him he found he had a lot more space on the court to work with.

With good playmakers around him and a spread offense he’s proven he’s talented enough to constantly attack the basket and shoot from the floor way better and with more confidence than the much more hyped Lonzo Ball.

Another marked improvement in Kuzma’s game has been the isolations. In college he rarely used them and wasn’t particularly good at it, but in the NBA he’s been showcasing some terrific individual moves all over the court.

With so much motion on the Lakers offense Kuzma already has a natural feel as to when and where go on the court to get scoring chances. And even more important is that Kuzma hasn’t looked as hesitant as Ball and has a variety of finishes to choose from to try to secure the points.

He’s been the quintessential small ball four, a kind of player that Lakers coach Luke Walton favors. Because of that he will continue to thrive with the Lakers and continue to be one of the driving forces behind the Lakers. It’s not unrealistic to say that the success of the Los Angeles Lakers will go hand in hand with his development and improvement as a player. Now the Lakers will have to wait and see if Lonzo Ball can follow his example and catch up to him.

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