While most have been focused on the Summer League performance of second overall pick Lonzo Ball, the Los Angeles Lakers have another rookie performing extremely well in Las Vegas in forward Kyle Kuzma.
In four games, Kuzma has averaged 18.3 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 3.0 assists and has stood out with his versatile play on both ends of the floor. Kuzma has shown exactly why the Lakers were excited to land him with the 27th overall pick.
In Thursday’s victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, Kuzma led the Lakers with 20 points. Afterwards, he spoke about what drives him to play so hard every night, via Lakers Nation reporter Serena Winters:
Kyle Kuzma: "I play with a chip on my shoulder and I feel like I've got to go out and prove something every night. That's my expectation."
— Serena Winters (@SerenaWinters) July 14, 2017
Kuzma’s passion and fire has been evident and he has impressed fans this summer. He has also been the beneficiary of many full-court passes from Ball, quickly realizing he can get easy baskets thanks to Ball as long as runs the court and keeps his eyes open and hands ready.
Kuzma has also showed the necessary versatility on defense to play both forward positions. He has battled with bigger, physical forwards like the Celtics’ Jayson Tatum, but has also done a good job switching out on quick guards like Cleveland’s Kay Felder and holding his own.
The Lakers’ power forward position is pretty set with Julius Randle and Larry Nance Jr. holding it down, not to mention veteran Luol Deng being better suited to play there as well. With his play and skill-set however, Kuzma is showing that he could be ready to make an impact immediately.
If he can keep up this level of play, Kuzma will be very difficult to keep out of the rotation.