Lakers: How Kyle Kuzma can replace Anthony Davis vs Minnesota

Feb 14, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) dunks the ball against Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) in the third quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 14, 2021; Denver, Colorado, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma (0) dunks the ball against Denver Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. (1) in the third quarter at Ball Arena. Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports /

With Anthony Davis out, Kyle Kuzma is next man up for the wounded Los Angeles Lakers squad

Anthony Davis, the man who Kyle Kuzma is replacing, believes in him as the next man up for the Los Angeles Lakers for the foreseeable future.

Per the Los Angeles Times:

"“Man, he’s grown. His playmaking has been better, his catch-and-shoot has been better, and his value for our team has grown from even the end of last year to now,” Davis said. “Between the huge plays for us, his effort and his energy are there every night. Rebounding, making the hustle plays. Things that you didn’t see a lot of last year — you saw spurts of it, but now you’re seeing it every game with him.”"

Anthony Davis said it best: Kyle Kuzma has gotten better for the Lakers. AD must have faith Kuzma will come close to replicating his production for as long as however, it takes for his Achilles to fully heal. If he plays through the pain, AD may end up like KD – as in Kevin Durant, who tore his Achilles tendon coming back too early from a calf injury in the 2018 NBA Finals.

RELATED: Anthony Davis’ injury could cost multiple championships

Obviously, it is not worth it for Anthony Davis to come back until he is fully healed. Kyle Kuzma is the next man up for the Los Angeles Lakers. Kuzma got the financial security he needed; now the Lakers need for him to live up to every penny of his new $40 million contract.

How Kyle Kuzma has fared in the Los Angeles Lakers starting lineup:

Kyle Kuzma must continue to do the little things that lead to big results for the Lakers, running the floor, cutting to the basket, and crashing the offensive glass. Kuzma has averaged 14.3 points and 6.8 rebounds on 49.3% FG% (38.7% 3PT%) in the six games he has started, most notably a 20-point showing against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Speaking of which, the Lakers play Minnesota tomorrow. Will Kyle Kuzma dominate like in the last game? Yes, all the (north) stars point to Kuzma having a monster game inside the Target Center.

Why Kyle Kuzma will replicate the same performance against Minnesota:

Kyle Kuzma was born in 1995. Judging by his list of top five finishing moves in pro wrestling history, Kuzma’s favorite era in pro wrestling history was in the late 1990s in what was called the Monday Night Wars between Vince McMahon’s WWF (now called WWE) and Ted Turner’s WCW promotion (which aired on TNT).

While Kuzma was more of a WWE fan, WCW had a civil war brewing between NWO Hollywood and a rebel faction, NWO Wolfpac. Little baby Kuzma must have liked NWO Hollywood better, because he laid the smackdown on the Wolfpack in Minnesota the last time around.

Like Hollywood Hogan before him, he simply leg-dropped Minnesota for the three-count early on with his prolific scoring outburst. If Kuzma plays as assertive as he did in their last meeting, he will have another strong performance.

It was Kyle Kuzma’s best game of the season. Kuzma’s scoring outburst is also not surprising given Minnesota is in the bottom five of fast-break points allowed and offensive rebounds allowed, which indicates Minnesota’s defensive woes are more effort-based as opposed to execution-based. Minnesota Head Coach Ryan Saunders should never have to beg for players to get back on defense and to box out their man.

It would be counterproductive for Kuzma to try to consciously replicate his first offensive performance against Minnesota. He just has to continue out-hustling his man down the court and crashing the boards aggressively.

If he does, Kuzma will get his buckets via pass-ahead layups transition and putbacks from offensive rebounds. In the half-court, Kuzma must continue to move without the ball to get layups off basket cuts and three-pointers off the catch.

As an undersized power forward, Kuzma can beat his direct matchup from Minnesota down the court and slither by him for offensive rebounds when any of his teammates take an outside shot.

All of this is second nature to Kyle Kuzma. He will only attain superstar-level scoring efficiency by mastering the art of scoring as a role player, as he has begun to do this season.


Kyle Kuzma is playing great for the Lakers as of late. Kuzma is obviously not as good as Anthony Davis, but he can at least come within a LeBron logo three-pointer of replicating AD’s production.

Minnesota will have star center Karl-Anthony Towns this time around; the Lakers were without AD the last time. KAT is still a dangerous threat on offense; he has now improved on defense, as his defensive plus-minus is no longer a negative.

KAT may have improved on defense but he stands no chance of slowing down LeBron James at the rim, or staying in front of Montrezl Harrell, or bothering Marc Gasol when he finds cutters (Kuzma especially) at the top of the key. Barring an ice-cold spell, the Lakers will score plenty of points and Minnesota will have trouble keeping up.

Next. Big men to target with AD injured. dark

Ultimately the Los Angeles Lakers should be able to defeat the Minnesota Timberwolves if Kyle Kuzma can continue to step up on offense.