Los Angeles Lakers: Kyle Kuzma flourishes in the bubble

(Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) - Los Angeles Lakers
(Photo by Ashley Landis-Pool/Getty Images) - Los Angeles Lakers /

Kyle Kuzma’s journey has brought him to finally step up in the most unexpected place at the most unexpected time.

It has been a tough year for Kyle Kuzma. Following a major reshape of the roster to make the team an immediate contender, he found himself the only lasting member of the Los Angeles Lakers‘ young core built through years of wise draft selections.

Coming from an 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds sophomore season, his averages dropped to 12.5 and 4.5, shooting 29.7 percent from three. Many questioned his role on the team and urged the need to trade him in order to acquire a more effective asset for the championship run.

Kuzma went from full-time starter to questioned rotation guy and this must have not been easy for him, who was the one the Lakers refused to surrender in a trade and widely considered the third option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

The coronavirus emergency came, the NBA was put on hiatus, and the season resumed four months later in the bubble.

Despite an opening win against city and championship rivals Los Angeles Clippers, the so-called seeding games have been trouble for the Lakers, who have the worst offense and have been struggling through the stretch.

In this small turmoil, Kuz has unexpectedly re-emerged, providing the service and production expected from the beginning of the season. He has been the one bright spot for LA. So far, in the bubble, he is scoring 15.4 points per game in just 28.4 minutes, shooting 44.4 percent from three.

His defensive commitment is what makes his performances more impressive. Throughout his career, his defense has been often questioned, but he now appears more engaged than ever on that side of the floor. He is focused, sharp and quick. He reads the situation and makes the right choice.

Kyle’s rebirth has provided an invaluable contribution and he has been one of the few reliable players for the Lakers so far, culminating with the game-winning shot against the Denver Nuggets.

After months of dysfunctional playing and difficulties to find a definite role in the offense, his chemistry with the teammates has finally begun to display. No doubt Kyle is one of the most loved teammates and he has developed a great relationship with LeBron since last year. But for some reason, this synergy had, until March, failed to show up on the floor.

He certainly did not lack the trust of his teammates, but, at times, he seemed to lack the trust in himself and feel uncomfortable on the floor. The discomfort is now gone. He is demonstrating his value and proving wright Rob Pelinka’s decision to keep him on the roster while all the Lakers’ former lottery picks were given away.

Next. Four lessons in win over Nuggets. dark

From day 1 in Los Angeles, Kyle Kuzma has shown potential and willingness to improve his game, repaid by the organization’s trust in him.