Kuz Control: Kyle Kuzma Profile
If you’ve been watching Laker games this season you’ve already fallen in love with rookie Kyle Kuzma. The young native of Flint Michigan, came into the league with the kind of tenacity Laker fans love and a playing style that fits perfectly in today’s NBA. With no holes in his game, the young power forward has captivated NBA fans to beg the question: how did so many teams pass on him?
No one is arguing Kyle Kuzma went from late-first-round college prospect to this year’s steal of the draft. To the delight of Los Angeles, this Lakers rookie power forward has quickly emerged as an essential part of the Lakers future core. As a dynamic scorer already capable of starting in this league, Kuzma, Ingram and Lonzo Ball make a dynamic trio of talented young players.
The 22-year-old enrolled at the University of Utah in 2013, and averaged double digit scoring since his sophomore year. Kuzma, originally from Flint Michigan, redshirted as a freshmen at Utah due to the fact he signed late. He averaged an impressive 16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, and 2.4 assists a game in his final year there, garnering All Pac 12 first team honors before forgoing his senior year and declaring his intentions to enter the 2017 NBA draft.
This was somewhat of a puzzle for scouts and those in college hoops. Some have said if Kyle would of waited to his senior year it may have improved his draft stock.Undoubtedly, if the draft was redone the Utah Junior would be most likely of been a top 10 lottery pick. Kyle was taken as the 27th overall pick by Brooklyn Nets, and was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers along with Brook Lopez for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov.
It was evident from preseason Kyle Kuzma and the Lakers number two pick Lonzo Ball had immediate chemistry on and off the court. But none could of have anticipated Kuzma would arguable eclipse Lonzo Ball as the most intriguing Laker rookie this season. Charles Barkley went as far as to say Kuzma is already better than Lonzo, while several NBA media members and former players have said Kuzma is already a starting 3 or 4 in this league. His NBA consecration first came when he was awarded the Summer League Championship game MVP.
However even after summer league Kyle Kuzma started the season showing a natural aptitude for the game. He intuitively does what many rookies struggle with: he makes quick decisions, has a proven 3-point shot, can beat players off the dribble and finish at the rack with an arsenal of moves; including a sweeping hook rare in today’s NBA. We’ve seen him already several times this season use a quality pump-fake from the three to a dribble-drive spin off the glass for two. He’s even more versatile offensively with his ability to grab a rebound and finish coast to coast, and defensively with his ability to guard multiple positions.
As a Laker rookie this season, Kyle Kuzma is averaging 16.6 points per game and 6.6 rebounds per game, shooting 38-percent from deep, nearly 50-percent from the field (49.7), and 77.6-percent from the charity stripe. In the last ten games he’s averaged 29.2 minutes per game and just 13 field goal attempts from the floor. Arguably his biggest play of the year came against the New York Knick on ESPN, when Kuzma drained a 3 from Ingram with less than 30 seconds to go in the 4th to tie the game at 99-99.
Even with Lonzo Ball, Ben Simmons, Jayson Tatum, and Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma is still in the conversation for Rookie of the Year. Kuzma has recorded 8 double-doubles and remains the only non-lottery pick on the radar. Kuzma has is this year’s “Revelation.” Whatever the outcome is at the end of the season, Laker fans are thrilled to have Kuzma as an essential part of their young core and reminds future players your draft # doesn’t dictate your future.