Among the big hopes of the Lakers upon his arrival in the City of Angels, Kyle Kuzma saw his role drastically change after the arrivals of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. An assistant coach explains how he opened the eyes of the young interior to acclimate to his new role.
During his first two seasons in the league, Kyle Kuzma was among the Lakers’ top two scorers each time. 27th pick in the draft, then traded by the Nets, the interior quickly turned out to be a steal with a taste for scoring. Confidence quickly rose in him, to the point that he thought he would start on any team in the league. That is to say.
Except that Kuzma has seen competition land with LeBron James in 2018, then Anthony Davis in 2019. What is more problematic in the case of the second is that he plays in the same position as Kyle, thus forcing the latter to be pushed onto the bench by Frank Vogel. For a young player, very confident from the start, it is not necessarily very simple.
The change of role is a habit for veterans, less for young people. So Kuzma had to get used to it, but he needed help. An assistant coach, in the person of Phil Handy, has his share of responsibility in this. He managed to help the former Utah flourish in his new role, while also helping his team win games. He explained himself to The Athletic.
Most of our play goes through LeBron and Davis. How can we complete them? How to integrate into the team and remain a valuable asset for it? The first step is to learn, to understand how these two guys play, because sometimes the team doesn’t need you to score all the time. Maybe “I” need to do more defense, and be ready to take a shot.
You always have to be able to help players understand: “I know what type of player you want to be. Let’s work on this during the offseason. But during the season, it’s more what you have to do to be on the floor – whether it’s defending, taking the rebounds, leading the attack, or returning open shots ”. It’s always good to have an open conversation with the players about what they want to be, and what they need to do to play.
Kuzma’s will? Without doubt to be the best scorer of his team and help him to win matches. But as Handy explains, the Lakers don’t need him in this role. The interior therefore had to question itself to change its game. Unfortunately, it is far from having convinced when it comes off the bench, so there is still work to be done for this offseason. Unless obviously that a trade is emerging…
Despite his reluctance, Kyle Kuzma accepted his new role, without necessarily excelling in it. It remains to be seen whether the leaders of the Lakers are convinced.