Kyle Kuzma’s Return Is Key to Lakers!
Why the return of Kyle Kuzma could be the catalyst to catapult the Los Angeles Lakers as the early season favorite to win the championship
The Los Angeles Lakers’ struggling offense should get a boost this Friday when talented third year forward Kyle Kuzma hopefully returns from injury and gets his first chance at playing with LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
While the Lakers’ offense still ranks ninth in the league thanks to Anthony Davis’ 28.8 points per game and LeBron James’ 23.3 points per game, the scoring burst Kuzma could provide could be exactly what the Lakers need. Danny Green’s 12.5 points per game, inflated by his 28 point opening game against the Clippers, is currently third on the Lakers’ roster. Adding a third 20-point per game scorer like Kuzma would be a big boost for the offense.
Kyle is also the perfect antidote for an offense that is too isolation oriented. Right now, 8% of the Lakers offense consists of isolation plays, sixth highest in the league. Last season, 69.4% of Kyle Kuzma’s baskets were assisted. Kuzma was also LeBron James’ favorite target for both passes and assists last season because of his ability to play off the ball and get himself open. If Kuz can regain his touch from deep, the Lakers offense will be even better.
It will be interesting to see how Kuzma fits in with this team defensively when he returns. Same with Rondo. So far, the Lakers have nine players with defensive ratings under 100.0, which is why we’re ranked fourth. Last year, Kuzma’s defensive rating was a mediocre 109.7 so he would have to improve dramatically to fit in with how this year’s team is defending. But Kyle knows this and worked hard this summer on being a better defender.
Having a strong defensive coach like Frank Vogel and being part of a team committed to being an elite defensively should help as should seeing the improvement this year by teammates with poor defensive ratings last year. Hopefully, Kuz will follow the examples set by LeBron, JaVale, and KCP, who have significantly improved their similar mediocre defensive ratings of 107.6, 111.1, and 110.1 from last year to 99.6, 96.3, and 94.1 this year.
The Lakers’ improvement defensively this season has been partly due to playing at a slower pace but the impact of Frank Vogel and adding former All-Defensive players like Davis, Green, and Bradley cannot be ignored. Playing defense is dependent on effort and the environment Kuzma and Rondo will be joining when they return from their minor injuries is going to be completely different from the one in which they played last year.
Kuzma will have a huge impact on the Lakers’ offense and replicate the improvement we’ve seen by LeBron, JaVale, and KCP on defense. Once he gets integrated into the rotation, he will become the Lakers’ third star.
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