The Kyle Kuzma secret is out. Whatever radar the Los Angeles Lakers’ No. 27 pick was still flying under is no longer there. In the last five games, despite facing all Western Conference playoff teams, including Golden State twice and Houston, Kuzma’s averaged 27.8 points on 52% shooting, 4.4 three-pointers on 56% shooting and 7.4 rebounds. In that span Kuzma has taken on some of the league’s best defenders in Warriors forwards Andre Iguodala, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, P.J. Tucker from the Rockets and Taj Gibson from the Minnesota Timberwolves, and it hasn’t mattered. His 38-point, seven three-point outburst snapped the Rockets’ 14-game winning streak last week, overcoming 51 points from James Harden. His confidence and his poise are setting him apart from an already distinguished rookie class. The Rookie of the Year award could well come down to Philadelphia’s Ben Simmons vs. Kuzma. Kuzma’s 31 points in the loss to the Timberwolves were the most by a rookie on Christmas Day since LeBron James scored 34 in 2003. “Of course it’s cool,” Kuzma said to reporters. “But at the same time, I expect to do all of this. Work hard so I should be doing all this. It’s not a surprising type feel. But it’s definitely cool to reach those milestones.” More importantly, even though the Lakers, at 11-21, have the same record they had last year at this point, there’s a different feel and energy to them. Paced by Lonzo Ball, the Lakers get up and down the court and have finally begun building a solid foundation. Between Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kuzma, there’s a lot to be excited about in Los Angeles, and it begins with their precocious rookie who might come away with some hardware if he can keep this up.
Could Lakers' Kyle Kuzma challenge for Rookie of the Year?
USA Today | Dec 27