The 27th pick in the 2017 NBA draft was an afterthought fro many NBA teams during the draft. This kid from Flint, Michigan played 3 years at the University of Utah. Kuzma was an average college player who progressed nicely over the years, but didn’t stand out. Kuzma had an excellent showing at the combine and was able to show off his improved 3-point shooting.
The rookie started to show his true value in the Las Vegas Summer league where he won the finals MVP and lead the team in scoring. Kuzma took this momentum into the regular season where he made the most of his minutes, eventually became a starter. Kyle Kuzma is currently second among all rookies in scoring.
Outside Scoring: 16/20
This is the area where Kuzma gets most of his points. Specifically 3-point shooting where Kuzma is shooting .38% and has made 76 of his 3-point attempts. he is already the best shooter the Lakers have. Despite not shooting the ball well in college, Kuzma worked on it and has said that the NBA three point line is easier for him.
Interior Scoring: 15/20
Kuzma is not just a shooter, but a very crafty interior scorer. His 6 foot 9 inch frame allows him get his shots and layups off over defenders. He is also surprisingly athletic. The best part of Kuzma’s interior scoring is his foot work when going into his moves. Kuzma has used the sky hook and the running hook numerous times in games with some success. While he isn’t exactly a back to the basket post player, his scoring in the paint is very underrated for a rookie.
Although Kuzma has never been asked to be a facilitator, he is still not a good passer. When Kuzma gets the ball, 9 times out of 10, he will shoot. Which is fine, the Lakers need him for scoring not passing, that’s Lonzo’s job. On the season, Kuzma is averaging 1.7 assists per game. The New York Basketball Observer does note that Kuzma has all the skills to be a good passer in the video below, but this needs to be seen on an NBA level.
Kyle Kuzma averages about 6.3 rebounds per game, but has had 9 rebounding and point double doubles on the season. He has good height and wingspan to collects boards, but can sometimes get over matched by bigger guys. Kuzma is also pretty good at tipping in shots around the basket.
It is perhaps his biggest flaw, Kuzma has not been a good defender throughout his rookie season. He is not quite a liability, but he can’t be depended on to shut down his man. Averaging 0.4 blocks on the season, Kuzma needs to improve his defense if he wants to be an all-star caliber forward in the NBA.
Free Throw Shooting: 9/20
Like the rest of his team, Kuzma struggles at the line to make his free throws. Despite having one of the higher percentages, at 74%, Kuzma is not reliable enough yet to take those late game free throws. Another issue is that Kuzma does not get to the line often, he is pretty good at avoiding contact. This can be blamed on being a rookie, Kuzma will eventually draw more calls and improve his free throw shooting.
Some of these grades are harsh, but there is one category that was not graded. The mental category; basketball IQ, mentality, and confidence. Kuzma would get high marks in all those categories, because he at age 22, he is dripping with maturity and star potential. It’s the reason so many teams regret passing up on him. He will become one of the best forwards in the league and he knows it. Kuzma has everything he needs and just needs to work on his deficiencies. He will surely surpass the final score given in the next few years. There are not many current or past players that he compares too, the closest may be a more offensively talented Marvin Williams.
Outside scoring: 16/20
Interior scoring: 15/20
Free throw shooting: 9/20
Overall score: 12/20
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