When the Los Angeles Lakers traded for Anthony Davis, being able to keep Kyle Kuzma on the roster was look at as a huge win. He was coming off a season where he averaged over 18 points per game and seemed like he would be a great sixth man for the team. Unfortunately, Kuzma has been wildly inconsistent all season.
“I really believe our third option on this team with the many, many weapons we have, is the open man,” Vogel said. “The way we play. If we attack, just play for each other and share the basketball, we have more than enough firepower. It’s almost a benefit to not have it be one guy the defense can zero in on. When you play in attack mode it can be a different guy every night stepping up and having 20 or 25 points, or the assists.
“That’s a strength of our team this year and I anticipate that’s going to work for us in the playoffs.”
This is obviously not a direct shot at Kuzma, but it’s clear Vogel doesn’t think the team has a specific third option.
Jared Dudley Disagrees With Vogel, Praises Kuzma
The Lakers have a number of players who could be considered the “third option.” Danny Green is a capable veteran and so is Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. However, Jared Dudley doesn’t agree with Vogel and think it’s clear who the team’s third option is.
“Our third guy is Kyle Kuzma,” Dudley said, per Ryan Ward of Clutch Points. “Now, has Kyle Kuzma been exactly consistent to the point where you have him as the third guy? I think people have to realize it’s him being behind AD, and Bron being able to move to the four sometimes takes his full minutes, but any time AD has missed a game, I guarantee if you look at those numbers he’s averaging over 20.
“For me, in my eyes, I look at this team, Kyle Kuzma is our third guy. … For us, I look at it as an opportunity for Kyle Kuzma to solidify being the third guy not only for the media but for this team and what I view him as.”
In the seven games that Kuzma started during the season, he averaged 20.3 points per game, so Dudley isn’t wrong in his assessment. The problem is that he’s only averaging 12.5 points per game in total. He plays the same position as Davis so he’s not going to get a lot of chances to start. He needs to figure out how to be more effective off the bench.
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Are Playoffs the Time Kuzma Steps Up?
With months off, Kuzma will have the perfect opportunity to reboot his season. It’s clear based on his first two seasons that he has talent. He can put up some serious points. He’s not great on the defensive end but the Lakers don’t need him to be.
The playoffs are closing in and Los Angeles needs their bench to perform with Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo out. Kuzma is the perfect candidate to have some breakout performances and he’s been staying in shape. A big playoff run would do a lot for Kuzma’s career. Instead of being looked at as a tradeable asset, he could be seen as an invaluable third option for the Lakers.