Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma is one of the most surprising players in the preseason. Kuzma is seventh in scoring this preseason with an average of 19.2 points per game just behind All-Stars that include Stephen Curry, Anthony Davis, and James Harden. The latest rumors suggest that the Lakers could start Kuzma over Brandon Ingram in the upcoming regular season.
In an interview with the media (h/t Clutch Points), Lakers head coach Luke Walton said that Kyle Kuzma has certainly earned a starting spot with his play in the offseason and it is definitely on the table. However, Walton is not sure where to start Kuzma because of his ability to play multiple positions but he is going to find minutes for the rookie.
“Kuzma has forced his way into the idea that we’re going to find minutes for him whether it’s at the three, the two, the four. Not the two, but we’re going to find a way to keep him on the court no matter what the rotations end up being,” Walton said.
The second-year head coach is still undecided which players are going to start at the two forward positions. Walton has to choose from Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Kyle Kuzma, and Larry Nance Jr. He will make the decision after the Lakers’ final preseason game against the Clippers on Friday.
According to Gil Alcaraz IV of Hoops Habit, Kyle Kuzma deserves to start at the small forward position over Brandon Ingram. Alcaraz pointed out that Kuzma has outplayed Ingram in the preseason and he earned the right to start. Kuzma is averaging 19.2 points, four rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 56.2 percent from the field.
Ingram, on the other hand, has only averaged 9.2 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.2 assists per game. The former second overall pick is only shooting 30.9 percent from the field and he has only made one-for-nine from the three-point area.
Although it’s only the offseason, Kyle Kuzma has had a positive effect to the Lakers just like fellow rookie Lonzo Ball, who is expected to start at point guard. When Kuzma is in the game, he shows hustle, heart and a high basketball IQ wherein he works to get his looks. Kuzma has been very consistent since the summer league up to the preseason and it should translate into the regular season.
However, it should be noted that the Lakers still view Ingram as their best prospect, per Bleacher Report. Team president Magic Johnson deemed him untouchable in trade scenarios but the expectations for him is a big high and it could hinder his development. One classic example is D’Angelo Russell, who got traded to the Brooklyn Nets this summer.
Kyle Kuzma does not have the same pressure because he is just a late first round selection. The Lakers drafted Kuzma 27th overall as a junior out of the University of Utah. Even if Kuzma does not end up as a starter, he is going to be a key part of the Lakers in the years to come.
[Featured Image by Ringo H.W. Chiu/AP Images]