Kyle Kuzma says he’s making an attempt to assist Lakers defensively whereas his offense isn’t going for him


Kyle Kuzma has struggled to seek out his footing offensively since he returned from damage earlier this month. Within the 4 video games he’s performed since then, Kuzma has averaged 9 factors on a lowly 37.5% from the sector, together with an much more disappointing 13% from Three on 5.eight makes an attempt per sport.

Kuzma appeared like he was beginning to get again into the swing of issues on Tuesday in opposition to the Chicago Bulls — when he scored 15 factors off the bench, together with 11 factors within the fourth quarter — however he adopted that efficiency with arguably one of many worst video games of his profession on Friday in opposition to the Miami Warmth. In 25:18, Kuzma put up simply 7 factors on 3-9 taking pictures from the sector, together with 1-7 from 3-point territory, and turned the ball over a game-high 4 instances.

Offensively, he’s by no means been worse. Defensively, although, he’s nearly as good as he’s ever been.

Although it’s a small pattern measurement, Kuzma is posting a career-high defensive score of 93.9 by way of 4 video games this season. The one gamers on the Lakers with higher defensive rankings are Danny Inexperienced (92.6( and Alex Caruso (91.9). Defensive numbers might be tough, however the “eye take a look at” has backed it up thus far, too. Final season, neither exams supported that Kuzma was a good defender.

After the Lakers’ win over Miami — by which Los Angeles held Miami to 80 factors, together with 34 factors within the second half — Kuzma stated he plans on being extra of a risk on the defensive finish whereas he tries to interrupt out his droop on offense.

“It’s a course of. It’s going to come back finally, however I’m discovering different methods to contribute to the group, and that’s on the defensive finish,” Kuzma stated. “Offense will come, however the largest factor is de facto making an attempt to hone in, lock in defensively. Get stops. That’s how we’re successful.”

However Kuzma is aware of that particular person protection alone doesn’t make a group nice, and he’s pleased with the group protection the Lakers have performed to begin the season.

”We hold saying that’s our id and that we’ll type of reside and die with it, and we do an awesome job of individually enjoying protection, however we are also an awesome assist group as properly. When guys get beat, we’re there to change pictures, block pictures, get costs and our rotation has been fairly stellar this 12 months,” Kuzma stated.

It’s not unfair to imagine Kuzma’s defensive numbers will fall again to earth sooner quite than later due to how unhealthy he appeared on that finish in his first two seasons with the Lakers, however there’s additionally wholesome room for optimism. Whereas Kuzma’s effort has loads to do with how properly he’s carried out on the defensive finish this season, he’s additionally shifting his ft higher and appears extra disciplined when guarding opposing gamers one-on-one.

Within the last seconds of the primary half of Friday’s sport, Butler had Kuzma on an island and as a substitute of over-committing and fouling on the step again like he has prior to now, he stored his composure and contested the shot properly, forcing a Butler miss.

If that’s the how Kuzma’s going to defend recurrently, then he shouldn’t have any downside staying on the courtroom whereas he will get his ft beneath him. Like he stated: Offense comes and goes, so let’s hope it comes for Kuzma sooner quite than later.

For extra Lakers speak, subscribe to the Silver Display and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You possibly can comply with this writer on Twitter at @RadRivas.





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