Kyle Kuzma has been a busy man this offseason. From a couple trips to China, youth basketball camps, and now Team USA, Kuzma probably hasn’t had a chance to relax yet. There’s a point to that, as Kuzma is trying to become the best “Kuz” he can be, off the court as well as on the court. In the middle of that, he’s been working on re-tooling his shot to get his 3-point shooting percentage back to where it was during his rookie season.
In addition to working on his shot, one area that Kuzma has lacked and has made an emphasis on improving this summer is his defense. His defense continued to be below average in his sophomore season, evidenced by Kuzma having the fifth-worst Defensive Rating out of all players who played at least forty games in the past season for the Lakers. Kuzma could probably still find enough playing time with the same defense if his shot returned to normal, but Kuzma seems to want more than that. If he truly wants to be great, his defense will definitely have to be improved.
He commented on how he’s been working on his defense when talking to reporters after a Team USA practice, saying this:
Get in shape, that’s one thing. Just making sure that I’m not getting tired and just making an effort. Trying to be physical and trust my feet—my mind, too—watching film. A little bit of everything.
Kuzma has talked about watching film in regards to his defense before, without seeing improvement to follow. Hopefully those efforts, in addition to added conditioning and footwork, will help Kuzma become a better defender this year. He’s definitely an X-factor for the team with how far they can go in this season, with their championship hopes being validated if Kuzma can become an average-to-above average defender for the team.