Kyle Kuzma was a revelation during the 2017-18 NBA season as he easily outperformed being the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
The 23-year-old came into the league with a polished offensive game that included hooks, floaters, and a sweet-looking outside shot. Instead of a fringe rotational player, the Los Angeles Lakers may have just drafted a franchise cornerstone.
Despite his scoring prowess, Kuzma still had several things to improve on, such as his passing and defense. Those two skills could transform the sophomore from a microwave scorer to a legitimate star in the NBA.
“He’s been doing a much better job of making the extra pass. Still not every time – and I get on him every time he doesn’t make it – but he is doing a nice job, for the most part right now, of making the extra passes. Defensively, he was good again today. We were putting him on guys that play the point guard, we’re putting him on guys that are centers, asking him to play switching coverage, asking him to play our scheme coverage and he’s made a lot of progress with all of that.”
Kuzma was considered a defensive liability during his rookie season as he struggled to defend the post and guard smaller players on the perimeter. However, he has remedied that and looks much better on that end.
As for the extra passes that Walton alluded to, Kuzma seems to have made a concerted effort to fix that. In the team’s recent games, he has been able to find JaVale McGee and Tyson Chandler for easy dunk opportunities.
With Kuzma taking a leap, the Lakers look to be a better bet to make the playoffs this season. Hopefully, Kuzma and the storied franchise continues to improve as the season progresses.