Hey, everybody, Trevor laying here.
Senior writer for lakers nation dot com Your Home for everything Lakers.
This is the Lakers nation news feed where we talk about breaking Lakers news and analysis, and today we're talking about Kyle Kuzma.
That's right, the sole survivor, the guy who stuck with the Lakers after everybody else around him got traded.
All the other young players talk about why Cal Kuzma is so important.
Not just for the Lakers this season, but for their future success as well.
We're going to dive into it, But first, quick shadow to our sponsors up time, energy drinks so energy should feel.
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The Lakers made a ton of big moves this summer, right? Bringing into markets cousins Danny Green, of course, trading for Anthony Davis to partner up with LeBron James.
This is a Lakers team that could make a real push for the N B.
A finals and attempt to bring home a 7/18 championship to Los Angeles would be incredible.
But for as much times we spent focusing on Anthony Davis and LeBron James and some of these signings and everything.
We're kind of forgetting the guy who stuck around the guy who didn't get traded for Anthony Davis, and that's kind of coups, MMA.
The Lakers made sure that they held on to him.
They drew the line in the sand at Cosma, and there's a reason for that because he could be key this season and beyond for the Los Angeles Lakers and looked whose mother, Lakers got him with 27 pick in the draft a couple years ago.
He has been tremendous, excellent player, excellent value for where they got him on a super super cheap contract.
So that's really important when you're building out a roster.
But you look what Koosman can do and you look at how important wings that are versatile are in the N B A.
Right now, you want guys that can make decisions off the bounce.
You want guys that can stretch the floor.
You want guys that can switch defensively and theory.
Kuzma can do all of those things, okay, but there are some some steps forward that he's gonna have to take.
We're gonna talk about a few key key areas right now.
Look, his offensive reading improved last season, but his defensive reading actually got a little bit worse.
And this is after a summer.
And we know Cruz was a hard worker last summer.
Cruise, um, spent a lot of time working on his defense, didn't really pay up.
He's still getting caught ball, watching too much.
He's still making mistakes out there on the floor.
But here's the thing.
I think that he's got the tools defensively to do some really, really good things.
That there, he's not a bruiser.
He's not gonna be blocking outside of shots at the rim, but I think he's gonna have the foot speed in order to stay in front of guys.
When he gets a little better at anticipating, that's gonna be the key for him.
Anticipating what the offense is gonna be throwing at him.
If he could do that.
I think you're going to see a much better defensive player out of Kyle Kuzma.
He's already okay, right? He's okay as a defensive player, but I think he can hit Ah, whole nother level there.
And that's gonna be a big plus for a Lakers team that's gonna need defensive stoppers, especially if you're gonna ask Kyle Koosman to guard small forwards.
Look, we're talking about a Lakers lineup right now with Anthony Davis at the four.
He's made it very, very clear that he doesn't want to play center.
He wants to play power forward.
And if that's the case, that means the cow Cruz's Mo has to settle for the backup minutes at power forward, and maybe he can steal some minutes over at small forward, either back champ LeBron Or if LeBron really does play point guard, he can slide in there.
So Karl Kruse was ability to slide up a spot, especially defensively, is going to be key this season if he's gonna be able to get on the floor with LeBron James and Anthony neighbors at the same time now, yes, you made you a death lineup to close things out.
Where Davis is at the five. That's possible.
But look, DeMarcus cousins isn't gonna make that easy.
Javale McGee is gonna make that easy.
They're going to try to play their way onto the floor as well.
And if Kuzma shows that he can play the three consistently think that's gonna be a big plus for the Lakers and I've got some good news.
I went back and I dug into He's his stats coming out of college.
I'm talking about his N B A combine stats and his shuttle run in lane agility Numbers were actually really good.
Look, yeah, things have changed since then.
But what I'm saying is that he's got the physical tools to stay in front of guys.
He just doesn't have the right technique.
So if he can learn that technique and that's where maybe new assistant coach Phil Handy can come in, the the upside for Cosmo defensively is certainly there on the offense of end.
Let me tell you guys, it's all about the shooting with him.
Look, LeBron James got Maur assists last season, bypassing the Kahuku ZMA than anyone else.
And it wasn't close.
Okay? Cosmo and Javale McGee get the majority of LeBron James assist.
Cosmo was fantastic, cutting off the ball any time his guy turned his head and paid more attention to LEBRON than anything else.
Cosmo went right to the basket, got a number of nice cuts to the rim, was able to finish.
He was great playing with LeBron James.
However, the key to hitting the next level for him is gonna be knocking down those jumpers because his three point shooting regressed and I mean regressed big time last season.
That's a big problem.
Look, if you've got a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, you need debate.
Teams pay for paying too much attention to them and ignoring shooters in the corner.
John Cosmo wasn't able to do that last season.
Something lay some stats on you.
Kuzma shot 32% from three last season on wide open looks.
I'm talking no one near him, and he got 3.
8 of his six threes attempted per game on average, were wide open.
I mean, no defenders, and he only hit 32%.
Then we have to get that percentage up.
When he was a rookie, he had 2.
6 wide open attempts per game, and he knocked down 39% of them.
Look, that's okay, right? That's not great.
That's not elite or anything, but we'll take that 39% of wide open looks that will make defense's pay a little bit 32%.
That's not enough.
You've got to be able to hit that higher level.
We know Cruz has been working on he's shooting this summer, so that's gonna be key toe.
Look for next season.
Can he knocked down those open shots? Because they're gonna be there with this Lakers team that has so much of an inside presence with boogie cousins.
With LeBron With a D, teams are going to get sucked into the paint and Kyle Kuzma has to be able to make them pay from Perimeter.
So it's going to be key for him if he's gonna hit that next level, that he can knock down the open shots because he's already got some really good facets to his game offensively.
Like his creativity, he's a better passer.
I think that people have given credit for he sees the floor fairly well when he's driving to the basket.
Got a few nice little drop off passes.
He's fairly creative around the brim.
Nice cutter can do all of those things, but if he can start hitting his open jumpers than the sky's the limit for Kyle Kuzma.
Now, why is this so important beyond just this season? Why did I say this is important for the Lakers success this season and in the future? While I mean, obviously, he's got to be able to hit this level in order for Lakers to have success this season.
I mean a LeBron James Anthony Davis.
You need that third piece.
Maybe it becomes DeMarcus Cousins.
I think Cal Cosmo's got a real shot.
He's extremely talented player in a super hard worker.
But for the future.
Look at what the Lakers are trying to do right now.
They have to sell Anthony Davis.
Anthony Davis is gonna be a free agent next summer.
They've got to make sure that a D stays, and that means showing Anthony Davis that they can't that they're not just building around him and LeBron right now and then they're just gonna figure something out when LeBron eventually retires.
No, you have got to be able to show Anthony Davis that you've got a plan to build around him in the future and given the fact that the Lakers have not traded away a lot of their future draft assets way in order to build this team that they've got right now and it doesn't look like they're gonna have cap space any time soon, depending on how things play out with some of these, some of these players and options and things like that, Kyle Kuzma needs to hit another level.
Kyle Kuzma needs to become a kn All Star caliber player.
To be able to say, Look, a d we've got Kuzma already in house and guess what? They've got his bird rights.
That means they're cap situation isn't an issue.
They can go over the salary cap to re sign Kyle Kuzma and keep him around long term if he hits that next level.
So look, not only is it important for the Lakers this season and for their future on the floor for Cow Koosman to hit another level to hit that all star level that we know he has in him, but it's gonna be important to be able to show Anthony Davis Look, it's not just about you and LeBron, but Kuzma has something real to his game.
Anthony Davis has already been super complimentary of them, but this is a guy that you can partner with moving forward because he's still a young player.
Anthony Davis is still very young, and the future could look bright around those guys if Kyle Kuzma can shore up a few areas of his game and really make that leap next season.
All right, guys, make sure you head over to lakers nation dot com your home for everything.
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