Coming off an exciting overtime win against Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, the 4-1 Lakers continue their road trip with a showdown against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs also sit 4-1 to start the season though they’re only notable win came at home against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Led by the duo of LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan, the Spurs are a well-rounded team that thrives on playing a disciplined brand of basketball. Despite no longer featuring Kawhi Leonard or any of the players that once helped establish the Spurs dynasty, the Spurs remain one of the best-coached teams in the league and pose a difficult matchup for anyone they face.
Expected to contend for a playoff spot, the Spurs offer the Lakers a great test in terms of where the Lakers stand relative to other Western Conference playoff contenders.
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Los Angeles Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup
*Projected Based on Previous Starting Lineups*
Kyle Kuzma Continues Road to Recovery
Kyle Kuzma finally saw his first bit of action against the Dallas Mavericks. Despite going 0-4 from deep, Kuzma finished 3-8 from the field in only 19 minutes of action. His shot was undoubtedly rusty after his strong showing at FIBA training camp but that should be expected to return closer to normal over his next few games.
Sill unaccustomed to sharing the court with his near entire cast of new teammates, the next few games should be pivotal to helping establish his pecking order in the offense and how Vogel will best be able to utilize his skill set.
Kuzma’s three-point percentage looks to be one of the most important areas for his (and the Lakers’) success this season. After seeing his percentage from deep drop nearly 7% from his league-average 37% rookie season, Kuzma could be a game-changing factor should he prove to be able to consistently knock down the deep ball.
While coming off the bench, Kuzma should see plenty of minutes alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis – effectively opening him up for a number of wide-open looks from deep. His ability to knock down those shots helps keep the defense honest and allows plenty of room for James and Davis to operate around the basket.
He looked solid making smart off-ball cuts to the rim which helped him get some easy baskets to help brush the rust off. The Mavericks game was a great start for Kuzma though we’ll need to see his deep ball improve over the next few games in order to fill out his expected role of the Lakers’ sixth man.
The Lakers have been off to a good start so far, though in order to make a deep run Kuzma needs to get back from his injury and take the next step forward in his development.