One thing was clear after the 2017 Vegas Summer League… Kyle Kuzma was very legit. After averaging 22 points on 51% shooting to go along with 6 boards (I know… during summer league..) it was worth wondering, could Kuzma be the best of the Lakers first round draft picks?
If I were a Lakers fan I would be ecstatic about Kuzma’s rookie year thus far. He has shown more than a few flashes of the Paul George comparisons lobbied around after Summer League. After averaging 19 points and 7 rebounds during November and December, including 38 in a win against Houston, Kuzma hit the typical rookie wall in January and February. Kuzma has been getting an extended run during the Laker’s hopeless March playoff push – averaging 37 minutes a game for the month. He’s responded by averaging close to 9 boards and shooting 44% on 6 threes a game… pretty fuckin good.
The beauty in Kuzma’s game is that at Utah he played a very traditional power forward position, which has benefited his development to a stretch 4 NBA climate. He’s not terribly athletic, but he’s definitely above average athletically and mixes that with a nice array of hook shots and up and under moves. He has a beautiful quick release on his jumper and looks like he’ll be a knock down shooter for years to come.
The value in Kuzma lies in the direction the NBA is moving. Shooting is king and the ability to have a knock down at the power forward position is something that can’t be overlooked. He combines pieces of Paul George and Carmelo Anthony (earlier years Carmelo, not the really shitty version he’s been for like 3 years now,) but he still has a long way to go defensively.
The Lakers will make a big play for Paul George and Lebron James this summer, but if they miss they’ll be happy with the alternative… Kuzma will be a star.