Analyst Makes Bold Claim on This Kyle Kuzma Development

Kyle Kuzma (No. 0) of the Lakers

Getty Kyle Kuzma (No. 0) of the Lakers

Over the course of his NBA career, the 3-point shot has not been a strength for Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma. In fact, over the past two years, as Zach Harper of The Athletic called it, Kuzma has been a, “disaster for outside accuracy.” Indeed, Kuzma’s perimeter shooting was rough last year and in 2018-19—he shot 30.8% from the 3-point line in those two seasons combined, taking 5.3 shots from the arc per game.

But, through six games this season, Kuzma has been off to a great start from the 3-point line, shooting 41.4% from the arc on 4.8 attempts per game.

Does that mean Kuzma is finally developing into the kind of 3-point threat the Lakers really need him to be when he is on the floor with LeBron James and Anthony Davis?

Harper suggests it could be:

In Years 2 and 3, Kuzma was drowning in his own inaccuracy. It made it hard to feel like he had a definite fit last season next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis unless he was going to become much better in other facets of the game (passing, defense). So far this season, the accuracy is at least momentarily back. … Nobody expects him to resemble Davis Bertans with his jumper, but even regressing to 38 or 40 percent would be huge for the Lakers and the $40 million they just invested into him with his extension. Lakers fans already felt great, but that development would be icing on the cake.

Kuzma Has Slumped as a Shooter in His Last Three Games

Now would be a good time, though, to bring the Lakers faithful back to reality.

Kuzma’s success as a shooter through the first two weeks of this season is encouraging, but it is an obviously small sample size and, really, it’s based only on two good games. On Christmas Day, the Lakers’ second outing of the season, Kuzma went 3-for-4 shooting from the 3-point line. In the follow-up game, against Minnesota, Kuzma was 4-for-6 from the arc, an impressive two-game showing.

Since then? Kuzma has shot 2-for-8, 1-for-4 and 1-for-4 from the 3-point line, a mere 4-for-16 over his last three games. That’s just 25.0% on 3-pointers.

It is a promising development, and if Kuzma gets back on track as a shooter against Memphis on Sunday, he would go a long way toward firming up the idea that he has improved as a shooter. That would be especially valuable against the Grizzlies, because he shot only 14.3% from the 3-point line against them last season.

Lakers Coach Vogel Wants to See Kuzma Develop All-Around Game

Lakers coach Frank Vogel has routinely shrugged off the importance of Kuzma’s offensive contributions, so chances are he is less concerned about Kuzma’s 3-point shooting than the rest of us. He has been consistent in saying that the areas of improvement he wants to see from Kuzma are as a defender, a rebounder and a passer.

“Kuz has really become a hell of a player,” Vogel said last week. “Playing in the role that he played in last year, where there were games where he wasn’t really that involved in the offense and had to impact the game in other ways, I think in the long run is really, really, really going to help his game.

“So many young players, they come into this league, in different environments, and they’re asked to carry a big load offensively. And when you’re doing that, sometimes you shortcut some of the other parts of the game and Kuz has really worked on his defense, he’s really worked on his rebounding, his cutting, his running the floor and all those types of things.”

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