Through two preseason games, the standout so far for the Los Angeles Lakers has undoubtedly been rookie forward Kyle Kuzma. The Utah product has led the Lakers in scoring in both contests and looks completely capable of continuing his strong play from summer league into the regular season.
Kuzma has not been hesitant or shy as he has attacked defenses relentlessly so far. Luke Walton will almost definitely have to find minutes for him, which is why Kuzma has been playing both power forward and small forward so far in preseason.
His natural position is power forward, where he can operate as a ‘stretch-4’ and use his speed and athleticism as an advantage over larger bigs. According to Eric Pincus of Bleacher Report, Kuzma agrees that he is best playing a stretch role:
Kuzma said he's just better than the player he was at Utah, also noted playing in a stretch role plays to his strengths
— Eric Pincus (@EricPincus) October 3, 2017
With his shooting and quickness, Kuzma has advantages over many power forwards in the league and when he moves to small forward those quickness advantages go away.
No matter what position Kuzma plays, it hasn’t changed his mindset when he’s on the floor. Walton praised his competitive mindset after Tuesday’s game and Kuzma has already endeared himself to Lakers fans everywhere. Not only is he averaging a team high 21 points so far, but he’s doing it on 62.1 percent shooting.
Through his play so far, Kuzma has made it clear that he needs to be in the rotation once the regular season begins. He is capable of playing small forward so he will likely get minutes there, but playing power forward is where his skills are best utilized so hopefully Walton can find minutes for him there as well.