Lakers’ Anthony Davis Delivers Strong Message on Kyle Kuzma’s Role

Getty Images Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers.

Kyle Kuzma dealt with quite the shift in his role last season with the Los Angeles Lakers, going from the starting lineup to coming off the bench, something he openly struggled with at times.

Now entering his fourth season in purple and gold, Kuzma is not quite sure what his spot in the rotation will look like, especially with a bevy of talented new additions to the Lakers’ lineup. That includes Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell, who were the top two candidates for Sixth Man of the Year last season.

“I don’t know,” Kuzma told reporters when asked about his role on Wednesday following the Lakers third preseason game. “We’ll see.”

The emergence of Talen Horton-Tucker has somewhat dulled the strong preseason Kuzma has had so far. He’s shooting 47 percent from beyond the arc and has scored 22 points per game. Kuzma led the Lakers against the Suns, netting 23 points on 53.3 percent shooting with 3 rebounds and 2 assists.

“I worked hard during the short offseason,” Kuzma said in a postgame interview with Lakers reporter Mike Trudell. “I’m a little ahead of the curve.”

Anthony Davis Heaps Praise on Kyle Kuzma

While Kuzma might be uncertain of his role for this coming season, his superstar teammate Anthony Davis is certain he’ll be a key contributor.

“It’s going to be a big year for him,” Davis said. “He’s going to play a bigger role for us this year and we need him to continue to do what Kuz do.”

James didn’t speak to the media about Kuzma after the game, but has let his opinion be known on social media. He responded to a post that said, “Name an NBA player you think will take a giant leap this season.”

James responded with: “Kyle Kuzma!”

Kuzma has also impressed one of his new teammates in Schroder.

“Great talent. Works really hard,” Schroder told reporters. “Great guy, but more impressed by how he works.”

There were some big expectations for Kuzma last season, with many seeing him as the third option on the Lakers roster behind Davis and James. He averaged 12.8 points and 4.5 rebounds coming off the bench, playing 25 minutes per game.

That was down from the more than 30 minutes and nearly 19 points per game he averaged during the 2018-19 season, but Kuzma was playing on a championship-level team last season with Davis and James taking up the lion’s share of minutes at the forward position. There were obvious growing pains, but it was evident that Kuzma was learning along the way, essentially getting a masterclass from two of the NBA’s best.

“I’m just learning every single day from LeBron and AD, having AD as an example of a player that does it on both ends,” Kuzma said last season. “That’s kind of how I want my career to be. It’s all about digging in deep, addressing my weaknesses and attacking them. Just not being scared.”

Dennis Schroder Dealing With Ankle Injury

While most of the Lakers have escaped any serious injury in the preseason, Schroder — the team’s new addition at guard — suffered an ankle injury against the Suns. The team said it was a mild ankle sprain, but the 27-year-old didn’t sound too worried.

“[My ankle] is pretty good,” Schroder told reporters after the game. “I got treatment on it already, iced it during the game. So, I think there’s nothing to worry about. We’ll see how it’s feeling tomorrow, in the morning. I think it’s pretty alright.”

Schroder started on Wednesday alongside Davis, James, Kuzma and Marc Gasol. In 24 minutes he scored 7 points with 4 rebounds and 3 assists. The Lakers are still working out what their starting five will look like and if Schroder could be more of an asset with the second-unit as the primary ball-handler.

“There’s a lot of things that theoretically look good that we just haven’t seen a lot of and we’ll make those decisions when the time comes, but it’s definitely something I want to look at that I believe will work,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel said prior to Wednesday’s game.

The Lakers wrap up the preseason on Friday against the Suns. They’ll open the regular season at Staples Center on Dec. 22 against the Clippers.

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