Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has had a tumultuous season. The third-year pro has battled injuries and role changes leading to inconsistent production.
Regardless of his struggles, however, Kuzma seems to be in the right mindset to contribute to the team. His teammate, DeMarcus Cousins, has observed as much on the bench and he spoke about it to former NBA players Matt Barnes and Stephen Jackson on the latest episode of their show “All the Smoke.”
Cousins: “That’s my little bro. I’m trying to drop as much knowledge as I can on him. He’s so talented, man. His talent is through the roof. He’s just got to learn the game and he’s like a sponge. He’s a student. He’s willing to listen. You just got to keep feeding.”
Barnes: “We talk often. He went from possibly the second option last year, playing more minutes, getting more touches to being third-string behind [Anthony Davis] and [LeBron James] but then not even starting the season off [due to injury]. To me, you gotta find your rhythm. I was just telling him, ‘Affect the game in other ways. Run the lane, go offensive rebound, be a dog on defense, cut. And then by the time you get that kind of feeling, then by the time they come to you, you’re in rhythm, so you don’t feel like you have to force it.’ But he’s so talented. I love to hear that he’s a sponge when he’s in that team environment because he’s really gonna be a key piece for them to do what they have to do.”
That’s the kind of thing every Lakers fan wants to hear. Kuzma hasn’t improved enough on his rookie season and while not all of it has been his fault, the team expects more from someone as talented as him.
Fortunately, he appears to be seeking out help and advice from all over and that should only aid in his development and in recent weeks he’s been doing more of what Barnes is talking about in affecting the game outside of his scoring. The franchise has invested a lot in him and trusted him through several rocky trade deadlines. Now it’s just up to him to prove them right.