Los Angeles Lakers: Remaining questions after signing Markieff Morris

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Los Angeles Lakers
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Will Markieff Morris’ Presence Hinder Kyle Kuzma’s Development?

If Vogel plans to play Morris 15-20 minutes per contest, someone will have to accept a reduced role.

Morris logged meaningful minutes right away. Among the reserves, only Kentavious Caldwell-Pope took the court for more than 18 minutes. The Lakers needed his contributions (15 points on 6-of-11 shooting). Kyle Kuzma saw the court for 12 minutes. He shot 4-of-10 from the field and didn’t establish much rhythm.

Although Kuzma has become accustomed to a bench role this season, he’s played 20-29 minutes in 32 out of 46 outings. The third-year veteran may lose minutes down the stretch as the primary 4 off the bench. With that said, Vogel could bump Kuzma to his natural 3 spot.

Trudell talked to Kuzma about the possible position switch:

Kuzma will have more opportunities to create as opposed to spot-up shot attempts, which may help him gain a feel for the game flow. Last year, he averaged 18.7 points per contest—primarily with the starters, so we know the Utah product can bring an offensive spark.

Nonetheless, with Caldwell-Pope playing about 58 percent of his minutes at the 3, Vogel should rely on the hot hand. That strategy won’t always bode well for Kuzma, who’s converting 43 percent from the field.

Earlier in the year, Kuzma seemed like the third man in the Lakers’ pecking order behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis. After an adjustment to a bench role, he’s now facing a battle for minutes in every contest.

Kuzma will have to outshine Morris and Caldwell-Pope to flourish down the stretch, which adds some urgency to his approach. That scenario could make or break his 2019-20 campaign.