Los Angeles Lakers: Why the Orlando bubble could benefit Kyle Kuzma

Los Angeles Lakers Kyle Kuzma (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images)
Los Angeles Lakers Kyle Kuzma (Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images) /

There is a lot of hype around Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma ahead of the NBA’s restart in the Orlando bubble.

We are inching closer and closer to the NBA resuming in the Orlando bubble and seeing the Los Angeles Lakers back in action. Everything has been going as planned, as it was reported on Monday that there were no new COVID-19 cases in the bubble, which is an extremely positive sign.

Each team has three scrimmages before the games really start to count with the Lakers’ first scrimmage being on Thursday, July 23 against the Dallas Mavericks. The games start to count on July 30, when the Lakers square off against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Kyle Kuzma has gotten more and more hype built up around him as we get closer to the Lakers being back in action. The player that disappointed this season and could not escape trade rumors has suddenly become a valuable commodity.

He already fell flat as the third star in the regular season but fans cannot help but ask the question: can Kyle Kuzma be an impact player in Orlando? Will he be that third star? Preliminary reports seem to be that he will be.

According to head coach Frank Vogel, Kuzma has been dominating the floor during the Lakers’ practices and has been lights out from beyond the arc (h/t Silver Screen & Roll). This is huge for Kuzma, as developing a consistent shot from beyond the arc makes him much more valuable alongside LeBron James.

While at the end of the day this is just practice, there could be some fire where there is smoke and Kuzma might be in line for an impressive performance in the Orlando bubble. In fact, you could make the case that the bubble might benefit Kuzma.

Los Angeles Lakers: Why the Orlando bubble might benefit Kyle Kuzma

Kyle Kuzma was in for a culture change quickly with the Los Angeles Lakers. While he was heading to the bright lights of LA, the team was still fairly irrelevant when it came to playoff contention in his rookie season.

The spotlight was around LeBron James and Kuzma was not looked at with stern eyes. What followed was a fantastic rookie season in which he made himself out to be one of the best sleeper picks in the draft.

Then LeBron James arrived and everything changed. While the Lakers ultimately did not make the playoffs, LeBron brought a massive spotlight with him that naturally creates more pressure for his new teammates. Kuzma was under more pressure, but he actually had a better season.

For the most part, especially late in the season (which is when Kuzma was his best), there were not huge playoff implications.

This year was different. The addition of Anthony Davis not only created a roster logjam that hurt Kuzma’s playing time but it made the Lakers bonafide contenders. A coaching change ensued. Suddenly, Kuzma found himself in the middle of a contending team, with all of his former young teammates gone, and struggled.

That is not the sole reason why he struggled, but it definitely had to account for some of it.

Some of that pressure is gone in the Orlando bubble. Obviously there is still massive amounts of pressure in playing for an NBA Title, but Kuzma and co. will be doing so in an empty gym. No fans. Less pressure. More pure basketball.

Maybe that is the difference between Kuzma missing two three-point shots or making them in a case. Maybe that is the difference between Kuzma not committing a costly turnover. Maybe, just maybe, these small things could add up and shift a playoff game, therefore shifting the series.

I like Kyle Kuzma’s chances to impress in the Orlando bubble. He still will not be a great defender and he won’t come close to being on the same level as LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

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But he absolutely could be the third-best player on the Los Angeles Lakers and be a huge reason why the team wins it all — if they do, of course.