Kyle Kuzma is a new man this season

Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma and the Los Angeles Lakers are a match made in heaven. While the Michigan-native enjoys the risk of fashion, the California backdrop is enough to make him one of the regulars. He’s just your normal L.A. face.

In the case of Kuz, there’s basketball. It’s opened the door for him to thrive in the way that he wants. He’s one of the faces of Puma basketball, touting his own signature shoe. He’s also been in GQ magazine, offering fans insight into his daily life.

The Lakers feature him in promotion videos and arena ads too. In his own way, he’s the face of the franchise. He’s the last of the Lakers that have actually been drafted by the Lakers, along with Talen Horton-Tucker. 

It’s no wonder that the possibility of being traded was burdensome. Two years ago, the rumors were swirling until Anthony Davis finally landed with the Lakers. Soon after, that brief relief was surrounded by what the Lakers would do with his contract. Kuz never really had a chance to settle. The tension and uncertainties surrounding Kuzma’s future were alleviated when he got a three-year extension worth $40 million.

Since then, he’s played the game wild and free. It’s a familiar theme that’s allowed him to be him. In all of his years, his overall effort has never been this evident. It’s a new version of Kuzmania that’s a big boost all over the court. Rebound after rebound, he hounds. Over the last 14 games, he’s grabbed at least five boards in 11 of them. And as a bonus, he’s hitting his three-pointers to the clip of 38.1 percent, a career-high.

This isn’t the same Kuz that looks for touches in an already occupied offense. He’s getting involved in his own way. I’m sure — like every rising prospect — he would love to score in bunches alongside Anthony Davis and LeBron James. But this role is just as important. The Lakers are a different, and better team when they get production from him.

His willingness to do dirty work as a perimeter guy offers answers to some of their questions. Can the Lakers guard the likes of Kevin Durant or Kawhi Leonard? When Kuzma is focused, they can.

If his game evolves, the Lakers won’t need to think about adding a bigger wing.

Let’s hope he carries this forth because it’s early. It’s lots of basketball to be played. But one thing is for certain, Kuzma wants to play that all of that basketball. He’s ready to embrace the new Kuz.

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