Rookie forward Kyle Kuzma was one of the biggest surprises of any team at the Las Vegas Summer League. The Utah product led the Lakers in scoring on their way to the championship with Kuzma himself winning Championship Game MVP.
Kuzma’s combination of speed, athleticism, and shooting ability gives him a distinct advantage over many power forwards. It also potentially gives him the ability to play small forward, something he hasn’t done before.
At Lakers Media Day, Kuzma spoke about working on playing the new position on Spectrum SportsNet, and he believes he’ll be just fine:
“Been going great. I never really played the three in college at all, so now it’s a little different territory but I’m doing a great job. I can move my feet, I can shoot the ball really well, I can handle it, so I already have those skills so I just have to fine tune.”
Positional versatility is extremely important in today’s NBA and Kuzma personifies that. His natural position is power forward, but with Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. already there, it would be tough to crack that rotation.
At small forward however, there are some question marks behind expected starter Brandon Ingram. Luol Deng is better suited to play power forward at this stage of his career while Corey Brewer has his limitations, especially offensively.
Kuzma is someone Luke Walton probably wants to find minutes for as he stretches the floor and the Lakers need as many shooters as they can find. Being able to play multiple positions and roles will help Kuzma do just that, and it’s good to see he is working at being effective at a position he has never played.
There are certainly some worries that Kuzma’s advantages could be nullified at the small forward spot, but Walton will try different combinations to find the best possible lineups. With his skillset, Kuzma should find some way to be on the court and make an impact.