The NBA season is about to kick-off and the Los Angeles Lakers have gotten some impressive performances from their young guys. Kyle Kuzma has become a polarizing figure for the fan base but he’s been looking good. He’s averaged 22 points a game in the preseason and could see his role change a bit this year.
This year is very important for Kuzma. He’s in the last year of his contract and could either get a massive payday or the Lakers could let him walk. While the team is very high on him, not everybody is sold. Former NBA general manager John Hollinger doesn’t seem sold on Kuzma’s ability, via The Athletic:
With the hard cap constraining their ability to take on money and limited assets to put in trades, the Lakers don’t have a lot of outs if they’re perusing in-season roster upgrades. The biggest one, by far, is Kuzma. After a promising rookie year, the forward’s play has leveled off, to say the least, and at the moment he might be one of the league’s most overrated players.
Suggesting Kuzma is “one of the league’s most overrated players” is probably unfair. He didn’t have a great year last season but nobody is sitting here saying he’s an All-Star.
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Kuzma Could Thrive in Potential New Role
Kuzma recently stated that he doesn’t really know what his role is going to be this season. General manager Rob Pelinka recently said that they could try playing Kuzma at the wing. He’s primarily played power forward in his career so that would be a pretty big change.
However, he showed defensive improvements last year and is much better when he starts. Anthony Davis isn’t getting moved off the power forward spot so the only way Kuzma can get into the starting lineup is if he plays at the wing. He played that role in the third preseason game against the Phoenix Suns and played well. The Lakers will probably experiment with their starting lineup to start the season but they should give Kuzma a chance and see how it works out.
Does Kuzma End the Season With Lakers?
The Lakers are eventually going to have to make a decision on Kuzma. If he plays well, he’ll have trade value during the season and value as a free agent in the offseason. He’ll be a restricted free agent but that doesn’t guarantee he’ll stay a Laker.
The team clearly believes in him and would probably prefer that he stays in Los Angeles for a long time. However, they can’t give him big money based on how he played last year. He never developed into a top sixth man like they were hoping he would. In his first two years with the team, Kuzma proved to be a strong scorer. He only averaged 12.8 points a game last year which isn’t what you want to see from a guy who is supposed to be your third-best scorer. If he keeps playing as well as he has in the preseason, he’ll probably get a contract extension. If he struggles before the trade deadline, it’s very possible the Lakers try to move him for a player who is a better fit.