Kyle Kuzma may have been one of the biggest surprises in the 2017-18 NBA season. After being drafted by the Los Angeles Lakers with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Kuzma showed that he was worthy of being drafted much higher. Thankfully for the Lakers, quite a few teams slept on him, and he joined Lonzo Ball as two of the Lakers’ three rookies in the rotation.
At just 22 years of age, Kuzma is looking like a cornerstone for the Lakers long-term. He showcased his scoring ability all season long and also rebounded the ball well and improved defensively.
Throughout the course of the season, Kuzma ended up averaging 16.1 points per game to go along with 6.3 rebounds. He shot 45.0 percent from the field overall and knocked down 36.6 percent of his three-point attempts. Those numbers show exactly why Kuzma has turned into a fan favorite and major key for the Lakers.
Not only did Kuzma play extremely well on the court, he also was an excellent presence off the court for the Lakers. He formed a great friendship with No. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball. Kuzma also took on a bit of a leadership role throughout the season, which is an area that he will only continue to improve.
All of that being said, Kuzma is without question one of the biggest steals from the 2017 NBA Draft. Now, it’s time to see what kind of grade he deserves for his performance throughout the season.
The 22-year-old Kuz ranked second among first-year players in scoring (16.1) and 3-pointers (2.1), while averaging 6.3 rebounds and a 36.6 percent clip from deep: https://t.co/kfHluUKd7Z— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 21, 2018
Strengths And Weaknesses
First and foremost, Kuzma brings knockdown shooting to the court. He had six games where he hit five threes or more and 12 games with at least four three-pointers made. Kuzma’s shooting is going to be a big piece of the Lakers’ offense for quite a few years to come.
Outside of his shooting, Kuzma showcased the ability to put the ball on the floor. He still has some work to do in that area of his game, but he is capable of going to the rim and finishes well through contact.
As for weaknesses, there is still work for Kuzma to do defensively. He was not “exposed” a lot throughout the season, but the Lakers could use a bit more from him on that end of the court.
Let’s take a look at a few games and highlights from Kuzma’s rookie season that are worth noting.
Obviously, this section has to start with his 38-point monster performance against the Houston Rockets. His production helped lead the Lakers past the Rockets by a final score of 122-166. Kuzma shot 12-17 from the field and knocked down seven of his 10 three-point looks in the game.
The very next game after his huge outing against the Rockets was against the Golden State Warriors. Kuzma wasn’t ready to slow down just yet, scoring 27 points to go along with 14 rebounds. L.A. ended up losing the game, but Kuzma began showing that he was capable of huge numbers on a nightly basis.
Adding one more game to the list, although there are plenty more to choose from, Kuzma showed off his scoring ability on Christmas Day against the Minnesota Timberwolves. He scored 31 points on 31 points against the T-Wolves, although the Lakers ended up losing the game.
Grading Kyle Kuzma’s Season
Finally, it’s time to put a grade on Kuzma’s season. There are very few areas that Kuzma struggled mightily throughout his rookie season. For the most part, he looked like a young player with a lot of confidence in his ability.
As we have mentioned, Kuzma could work on his defense a bit, and there is always room for more consistency on the offensive end as well. Despite those two things, the Lakers should be very excited to see what season two will have in store for Kuzma. There are very few young players with a bigger upside than Kuzma.
Grading his season isn’t too terribly difficult. Seeing a rookie have this kind of a year makes it pretty clear that Kuzma deserves a favorable grade.
Season Grade for Kyle Kuzma: A-