• Justin Vigil-Zuniga

Can Kyle Kuzma Be the Los Angeles Lakers' Third Star?

Washington Post

To the surprise of most fans, the Los Angeles Lakers have emerged as frontrunners not only in the West, but in the entire NBA. The team has registered wins in tight, comeback and blowout games. What has been surprising is the slow start of the third scoring option.

Kyle Kuzma had an amazing, improved second year last season with an 18.7 and 5.5 line. He played 70 games and was seen as the number one scoring option in most of which, with one of the worst injury plagued seasons the Lakers have experienced. Now stepping into a role where he can work alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kuz could potentially thrive. Ideally, he’ll draw secondary or lower-skilled defenders, have tons of open looks and get his own with all the attention the LeBrow combo demands.

Well that certainly hasn’t been the case as Kuzma is struggling to find his rhythm so far this season. In his first four games this season, after missing minor time with a foot injury, Kuz shot 37.5% from the floor and 13% from 3. However, the Lakers are still won and show no signs of stopping.

Kuz as of late has improved greatly. He has hit the 20-point mark twice this season and shot over 40% in seven straight games, which obviously, were all Ws for the Lakers.

Kuzma has reached 45.8% on the season while averaging 11.7 points and now has reached 36.6% from three. A solid Mark for most players but for Kuz we can expect more. He certainly is hitting a stride and finding rhythm in select games but has still not looked like the dog we know him as on the court night after night.

The 1-2 punch of James/Davis has proven too much for most opponents so far. Once Kuzma can start getting comfortable in the new Lakers’ system, it’s over for you hoes’ other 29 teams.

Both James and Davis are averaging over 25 points a night which will certainly decrease with at least one of them as the season goes on. Kuzma can be another 20+ a night scorer if he gets enough shots up, which has been one issue so far. The third year forward has taken 10 or more shots in just six of his fifteen games. He has shot over 43% in all but one of those games.

Aside from the Late Monstar-Warriors teams, the Lakers could become the second team in over 12 years to have three 20 point-a-night players. Kuzma is easily the most likely to be the third scorer on this team. But should the unfortunate happen to any of the stars, there is a lot of space for guys like Green, Bradley or Prince Alex Caruso.

Even through his early struggles, the Lakers still found won left and right. The team has found themselves nearly out of a handful of games so far but has fought back and won most of them. There are plenty of humps to get over with a newly furbished team and coaching staff, but so far, what has been built looks like an absolute championship contender.

A huge two-star combo is required in this modern NBA but those few other players following the two are crucial to the long run of the season. If Kuz gets back to his form and even shows some signs of improvement, it’s hard to see this team losing any games at full strength. How do you plan a matchup with a death lineup of: Avery Bradley, Danny Green, James, Kuzma and Davis?

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