No player has stood out for the Los Angeles Lakers more in the preseason than forward Kyle Kuzma. Through four preseason games, Kuzma has averaged 19.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, 1.2 assists and hit 62 percent of his field goals and 30 percent of his three-pointers.
His hot play hasn’t only caught the attention of the fans, but also the coaching staff as they’ve begun to toss around the idea of inserting Kuzma into the starting line-up.
As it stands, the Lakers appear to have a starting lineup set with Lonzo Ball, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle and Brook Lopez.
With that in mind, Caldwell-Pope will be suspended the first two games of the season. While Kuzma wouldn’t be a natural fit into the lineup, the team could move Ingram to shooting guard and play Kuzma at small forward to provide spacing and shooting in the starting line-up.
It’s also worth noting that Randle came off the bench in the Lakers’ preseason game against Sacramento. Larry Nance started in his place, but Kuzma could be the guy that takes his spot in the future should his hot play continue.
Benching Randle, though, would plummet any potential trade value he’d have, which matters with the Lakers’ desire to create room for two max contracts heading into the summer of 2018.
As great as he’s been in the preseason, it’s again worth noting that Kuzma will likely regress to the mean and that he has only played 11 games as a professional. However, he’s also proving with each game that he needs to see the floor and is a perfect fit next to Ball and in a Lakers’ offense that wants to run and gun.
Whether this all leads to Kuzma seeing time in the starting line-up is hard to tell, but he’s certainly making a compelling case for it through the opening four games of the preseason.