Los Angeles Lakers: 3 trends from the scrimmage games

(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
(Photo by Harry How/Getty Images) /
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(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) – Los Angeles Lakers /

1. Kyle Kuzma’s playmaking

Kyle Kuzma only played in the Lakers’ first two scrimmage games.

During the first game against the Dallas Mavericks, he couldn’t buy a bucket. He ended the contest shooting 4 for 13 from the field. He also got cooked by Luke Doncic every time he tried to defend him on the perimeter.

Kyle Kuzma was a different story for the Lakers during their second game against the Orlando Magic. Kuzma led the Lakers in scoring by converting 10 of 13 shots from the field; he finished the game with 25 points. Kyle Kuzma also played better perimeter defense. He had a solid 106 defensive rating, one of the best marks on the squad.

Kyle Kuzma’s second “preseason” was a tale of two games—one bad and one good. That up and down pattern is nothing new for Kuzma; it can describe his entire season. One new trend did emerge, though, during the Lakers two scrimmage games Kyle Kuzma initiated the Lakers offense much more than we’ve ever seen in the past.

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Throughout most of Kyle Kuzma’s career, he’s been a spot-up shooter or a cutter for the Lakers in halfcourt situations. During these two scrimmage games, we saw something new from Kuz. He was the Lakers ball handler in several pick and roll situations, and he even brought the ball up the court and opened the offense.

Kyle Kuzma looked good, starting the Lakers attack. He was surprisingly comfortable running the pick and roll for essentially the first time in his career, and he passed the ball well when given a chance.

Kyle Kuzma’s not going to shoot 10 for 13 from the field in the playoffs as he did during the Lakers’ second scrimmage game. He’s been one of the worst three-point shooters in the league over the last two years, and there’s no way he was able to fix all the flaws in his jumper during the coronavirus hiatus.

If Kuz manages to knock down 35 percent of shots from beyond the arc in the playoffs, that would be a massive victory for him and a boon for the Lakers halfcourt offense. With that said, his new and improved playmaking skills look real.

Rajon Rondo—the only other genuine playmaker for the Lakers besides LeBron during the regular season—is out for at least the next five weeks; the Lakers need someone else to handle the playmaking duties. It appears that Kyle Kuzma will be that man. That’s excellent news for the Lakers.

Kyle Kuzma must continue to rebound well, play decent perimeter defense (95% of the players in the league get cooked by Luka Doncic out of the pick and roll), and initiate the offense at a high level.

If he continues to do those three things well, even if his jumper is off for a game or two, he’ll still be an instrumental player for the Lakers the rest of the year, which is more than we could have said about Kyle Kuzma before the hiatus.