The Los Angeles Lakers have their final preseason game tomorrow against the Suns, as they will then turn towards getting ready for their season opener against the Clippers on Tuesday. Talen Horton-Tucker has been the talk of the preseason so far, but Kyle Kuzma has had an acceptable three games so far that have flown under the radar due to everyone being interested in THT. He led the team in scoring in last night’s win over the Suns with 23 points including four made three-pointers on eight attempts.
Now, of course, this was done without Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope playing, as well as the absences of LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the second half. Kuzma is having success in a far-from-normal rotation compared to what we will probably see in the season. Since LeBron arrived to L.A., Kuzma’s role with the team has varied with his role in last season’s playoffs mostly being one of the team’s decent wing defenders while occasionally receiving some spot-up three opportunities. That role appears to be as unclear as it has ever been heading into the 2020-21 campaign, as Dan Woike of the L.A. Times decided to ask Kuzma if he knew what his role would be this year. His answer left much to the imagination.
“I have no idea,” Kuzma said tersely. “We’ll see.”
Kyle Kuzma is aware of the fact that the Lakers have asked him to do many different things for them in his young career so far, as he elaborated on that below:
“I just think in my career my role has changed kind of every year,” he said Wednesday. “So for me I’ve had to adapt my game and figure out ways to affect the game in different ways, much more than other guys on that trajectory.”
Frank Vogel — the ultimate decision-maker for Kuzma’s role — also talked about this earlier in the week saying the following:
“He’s still going to be asked to carry a scoring load when he’s out there, to make the right play offensively while being in attack mode and being very aggressive and to continue to be a big body that can guard multiple positions for us,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said pregame about Kuzma’s role. “Where that lands, whether he’s starting or coming off the bench, is still to be determined. But we have a great luxury with Kyle, with a lot of guys on this team, that have experience doing both.
“Where the rotation is going to land is still to be determined.”
Kyle Kuzma only offered up a "I don't know … we'll see" when asked about his role this season, but Anthony Davis was bullish on Kuz. AD: "It’s going to be a big year for him. He’s going to play a bigger role for us this year. And we need him to continue to do what Kuz do."
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) December 17, 2020
LeBron James has always proudly backed up Kuzma, while Anthony Davis has done the same in his young Lakers tenure. But still. The idea of Kuzma having a larger role this season than last season seems dubious at best given the Lakers’ new additions that are almost all exclusively offensive-impact guys. It seems like Kuzma’s role on the offensive end will continue to shrink this season, and that his defense will be the biggest factor for the Lakers’ overall success. Who knows though. He’s been shooting the ball great in the preseason and the Lakers may need that spot-up shooting throughout the season.