Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma Heats Up From Deep in USA vs Australia Exhibition

Kyle Kuzma USA vs Australia

Getty Kyle Kuzma shoots during a Team USA training session.

While most of USA Basketball’s roster got off to a slow start in their exhibition game against Australia, Kyle Kuzma bucked that trend and came out of the gates scorching hot. Showing off his compact, new-look three-pointer, Kuzma rained bucket after bucket in from deep to help keep USA Basketball in the game early on.

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Kyle Kuzma Heats Up From Deep in USA vs Australia Exhibition

Going 4-6 from the field (including 4-5 from deep), one of Kuz’s two misses came on a half-court buzzer-beater attempt at the end of the first half. Kuzma would keep his hot hand going second half and his strong showing from deep should go a long ways towards helping cement his position as one of the 12 players coach Gregg Popovich plans to bring to China.

Kuzma’s ability to knock down the deep ball should be tremendously important to USA Basketball, however, that continued development should likely play an even more important role when he returns to the Lakers. Especially with the injury to DeMarcus Cousins, the Lakers need frontcourt players who can reliably stretch the floor to serve as catch and shoot weapons. While Kuzma is far more versatile than simply a catch and shoot specialist, adding a more consistent shot to his arsenal should help keep valuable driving lanes open for the Lakers’ pair of superstars in Anthony Davis and LeBron James.

Myles Turner Steps Up With Strong Performance at Center

Heading into the FIBA World Cup, center is the position with arguably the most question marks surrounding it for Team USA. With Brook Lopez, Myles Turner, and Mason Plumlee all still on the roster, it seems likely that one of the three big men will be the final roster cut to trim the team down to 12 players. Brook Lopez’s veteran presence and strech ability make him a near-lock for a roster spot, leaving a likely battle between Myles Turner and Mason Plumlee for the final spot.

Turner got the start against Australia and made the most of it, recording a double-double while crashing the offensive glass hard and imposing his will on both ends of the court. While Turner didn’t post any substantial stats defensively, he did an excellent job at closing out on shooters on the perimeter and flashed the shot-altering skills that make him such a valuable asset. By far Turner’s best showing so far coupled with an uninspired showing from Plumlee, Turner’s USA Basketball stock seems to be on the rise as the team heads into their final stretch before the start of the World Cup.

Turner is by far the more talented of the big men on the roster (Lopez included), yet has struggled mightily with consistency. That said, just about every big man for USA Basketball has struggled to an extent and it looks to be the team’s biggest weak spots – especially when matching up against teams like Serbia that feature an elite big.

However, if Turner can string together a few more strong performances in the remainder of the exhibition games, there is a chance he not only finds himself on the roster but cracking the starting lineup.

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