How Fixing His Broken 3-Point Shot Could Transform Kyle Kuzma’s Future!
Kyle Kuzma is the Los Angeles Lakers’ version of the American TV series Survivor, the one player everybody thought for sure would end up being traded this offseason but somehow is miraculously still on the roster.
Since we know he had been included in trade offers for Jrue Holiday and Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kuzma’s ultimate survival was not due to his having been declared touchable by the Lakers’ front office but simple serendipity. For some reason, the basketball gods seem to be determined to give Kyle one last opportunity to live up to the promising glimpses of potential that have tantalized the Lakers during his three years in purple and gold.
After Kuzma’s mediocre 2019-20 season and playoffs and Rob Pelinka’s spectacular upgrade of the Lakers’ roster this offseason, Twitter has now declared Kyle Kuzma to be just the 10th best player on the team’s roster. Unless you have forgotten, this is the same Kyle Kuzma whom LeBron James pronounced just three short months ago needed to be the third best player on the team if the Lakers were going to win their 17th championship.
So why is third year player Kyle Kuzma so disrespected and written off at this point by so many Lakers fans and basketball analysts? His coaches will tell you he’s matured as a player, is a better defender, and willingly shares the ball. Kyle’s teammates like and respect him and he’s no longer the unrepentant gunner he once was when he was younger. As a matter of fact, he does everything the Lakers want him to do except shoot efficiently from three.
But what if Kyle Kuzma could fix his broken shot? While it was a small sample size, Kuz shot a team best 44.4% in the 8 regular season games the Lakers played in the bubble after having 4 months off to work on his shot. Unfortunately, Kyle struggled in the playoffs and reverted to shooting just 31.3% as his minutes dropped from 28.0 to 23.0 per game and his improved shot selection from in the bubble disappeared as he kept hoisting shots.
Imagine how differently the basketball world would view Kzma if he could suddenly start shooting 38% from deep? Pundits might have been talking about him as the next great young 3&D player to emerge as a big name star. Had Kuzma shot 38% from three and played 30 rather than 25 minutes per game this season, he would have averaged 16.4 points, 5.4 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game, better stats for the season than Bogdan Bogdanovic.
Considering the form and mechanics of his shot, Kuzma clearly should be a better 3-point shooter and it wouldn’t surprise me at all to see a major improvement in his long range shot selection and percentage this season. Given another chance to live up to the hype created his rookie year when he was considered to be the steal of the draft as the 27th pick, Kyle may finally put it all together and become the budding star the Lakers envisioned.
Achieving that goal might not only dramatically transform Kuz’s career but also open the door for the Lakers to give him the rookie extension and opportunity to be a starter he’s been fighting to get the last two seasons. Since James and Davis are going to start at the three and four, Kuzma is going to have to show he can play the two to earn a future starting role on the Lakers, which is going to be a challenge considering the competition.
In the NBA, the positions you can defend are the positions you can play and Kyle Kuzma’s shown promise as a long wing defender who can guard elite wing scorers like Harden and Leonard who are too big for KCP and Caruso. While it’s a long shot, the opportunity is there for Kuzma if he can continue to grow as a wing defender, improve his shot selection and overall game, and somehow fix his broken 3-point shot and start shooting 38% from deep.
Even if a breakout season doesn’t win Kuzma a starting role and extension on the Lakers, it will open doors for a major role on another team and a chance to emerge from the cocoon he’s been trapped in for the last 2 years.
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