LAS VEGAS –For a player that prides himself on his versatility, Lakers rookie forward Kyle Kuzma has tried to ensure he does not become among the many workers that fall victim to this trend in many industries.
A jack of all trades, a master of none.
So with the Lakers selecting him with the 27th pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Kuzma tried to show his worth amounted beyond his ability to play multiple positions and willingness to make hustle plays. He wanted to prove he could shoot the ball well. So, Kuzma took on the repetitive task in focusing on that skill recently in gym workouts.
In the Lakers’ 86-81 loss to the Boston Celtics on Saturday at Thomas & Mack Center, Kuzma provided some early returns on investment. He posted a team-leading 31 points, while shooting 12 of 26 from the field and 5 of 10 from 3-point range.
“I’ve been working since the end of the season to improve my shooting ability,” Kuzma said. “It’s all about getting reps and being in the gym.”
Kuzma has focused more than just on taking plenty of shots in his workouts. That work helped him improve his 3-point shooting at the University of Utah as a sophomore (25.5%) to a junior (31.2%). Kuzma also became mindful he would have to tinker with his approach when accounting for the distance in the 3-point line from the basket in college basketball (19 feet, nine inches) and in the NBA (23 feet, nine inches).
“I have to get my legs into it,” Kuzma said. “The college 3, you can shoot like it’s a free throw. But it being that deep, I have to really focus on getting my legs into it and the mechanics in my shot. By doing so, I’m more efficient and effective.”
Kuzma certainly seemed efficient and effective against the Celtics after scoring only nine points while going 3-of-8 from the field and 0-of-3 from 3-point range in the summer-league opener against the Clippers. Part of that stemmed from who Kuzma played with on the floor.
With second-year forward Brandon Ingram shut down for the rest of summer league after nursing a cramp in the opener, Kuzma filled that vacancy while second-year guard David Nwaba and rookie shooting guard Josh Hart started over Travis Wear and Vander Blue. That allowed Kuzma to play more with rookie point guard Lonzo Ball, who set him up with open shots inside and along the perimeter.
“Lonzo is a great player. It’s fun to play with a point guard that is so pass first and his head is always up,” Kuzma said. “You’re a basketball player, that’s a person you want to play with.”
Kuzma showed he is a person his teammates will want to play with as well, showcasing his strengths with his versatility while maximizing his skills as a shooter.
So to prove that his worth amounted more than just
When the Lakers drafted Kuzma with the 27th pick in the 2016 NBA draft, he touted his ability to play at the small forward and power forward and willingness to make all the hustle plays.