The Los Angeles Lakers suffered their seventh loss in eight games on Friday night when they fell to the Detroit Pistons, 111-97. While there are normally no positives to take from a game like that, Kyle Kuzma provided one.
He put together a 10-assist game, setting a career high, in a culmination of the work he’s put in to try and improve as a passer. One of Kuzma’s critiques at the end of his rookie year was that on offense, if his shot wasn’t falling, his impact was minimal.
Now, it feels as though he can affect the game in multiple ways. Kuzma spoke about the importance of adding playmaking into his game, and how he’s going to use the final games of the season to improve as a whole, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I’m just trying to keep developing, trying to expand my game. Everybody knows that I can really score it. For me to be a better player, I need to pass to my teammates, find them and just become an overall player. … I mean, I try to make the open pass as much as I can. Some nights I may not see people because I’m so zeroed in scoring because that’s who I am as a player. I’m just trying to use these next 14, 15, whatever games we have, to continue to develop. I know I can score, but the past two or three games I’ve been really trying to find guys and become a complete player.”
When Kuzma’s shot is falling, people forgive him for getting a low assist total, as his primary skill has always been scoring. However, on a night like Friday, when Kuzma is 5-for-14, having a passing game will not only keep defenders honest, it will also allow him to still be a positive contributor.
As the season winds down, the Lakers simply need to focus on getting the most out of the young guys that are still playing as possible. If Kuzma can become a consistent playmaker, there’s no telling what his ceiling could be.