Ever since Anthony Davis got hurt, the Los Angeles Lakers have needed their role players to step up. A lot of eyes have been on Kyle Kuzma as he plays the same position as Davis. He isn’t consistently putting up big numbers but he’s shown great improvement on defense and is capable of putting together a big game from time to time.
One of his best games of the season came on Friday night against the Indiana Pacers. He scored 24 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in the 105-100 win. The most impressive part of his performance is that 15 of those 24 points came in the fourth quarter. He was a big reason the Lakers were able to pull off the win.
Though it was a great moment for the young forward, Fox Sports analyst Skip Bayless took the opportunity to shade LeBron James while praising Kuzma.
Kyle Kuzma is the clutchest Laker and should be the team's closer.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 13, 2021
He may not mention LeBron but this an obvious dig. The superstar is one of the best clutch players in NBA history despite there being a narrative that he isn’t clutch. Bayless decided to double down on his Kuzma comments on Monday.
“Kyle Kuzma didn’t just show up, he showed completely out. He scored 15 in the 4th quarter and added 4 more rebounds,” Bayless said on Undisputed.
— Skip Bayless (@RealSkipBayless) March 15, 2021
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Lakers Should Be Excited With Kuzma’s Development
While Bayless went way over the top with his analysis of Kuzma, he does bring to light how well the forward has been playing. He’s averaging a career-low 11.8 points per game but that doesn’t tell the whole story. He’s averaging 6.8 rebounds per game, which is third on the team.
Kuzma has also shown improvement on defense. In fact, scouts recently said that his contract is starting to look like a steal based on how he’s playing. He’ll probably never be a full-fledged star like many were anticipating after his first couple of years but he’s a really nice piece for the Lakers.
LeBron Talks Kuzma’s Growth
LeBron has been a very big champion for Kuzma over the years. He even said prior to the season that he expected the young forward to take a big leap this season. LeBron had a chance to offer some praise to Kuzma recently.
“The growth of him is knowing that some games it’s going to be different.,” LeBron said after Friday’s win. “It’s not always going to be high-scoring nights. But he’s still going to be able to make an impact, especially on the glass and his energy and his effort. But we need him to make shots. We need him to make shots, especially in the absence of AD and tonight was an example of that.”
If Kuzma can keep playing at a high level, it’ll make the Lakers miss Anthony Davis a lot less. He’s never going to be the team’s third star like they were hoping but he’s becoming an important piece and he appears to be getting better.