Nobody in the rookie class can make as much of an impact
Outside of his scoring ability and versatility, there is one other aspect of his game that makes him a solid competitor for Ben Simmons. What that is has to do with his individual impact on the team that drafted him.
Kyle Kuzma is the only young gun on Los Angeles that has had what looks like a permanent impact for the Lakers. Simmons gets to play alongside Joel Embiid, who has established himself as a great presence in the league, and the two already have a certain flow and style.
Kuzma can definitely use his platform with the Lakers to become their best young player, and if developed the right way possibly their best overall player on the roster.
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Those that might try to make a case for Lonzo Ball also having an impact on the Lakers aren’t wrong, but comparing it to what Ben Simmons has done for the 76ers doesn’t even come close.
Simmons is chasing historic rookie averages, while Kuzma completely came out of the wood work to be the first rookie to score 30 points in a game this season. When visiting this point, it is also worth considering just how drastically different Kuzma and Simmons have to play to make their impact.
It’s not like Simmons, a former number one pick, was expected to be a bad player. We should’ve expected this, or at least somewhat close numbers. As for Kuzma, without his abilities moving forward, the injury to former starting forward Larry Nance Jr. would be devastating.
Not entirely because of the fact that Julius Randle can still play well, but depth wise it could’ve been a disaster.
Lastly, moving forward, if Embiid has a series of bad games or goes down with some sort of wild injury, we have yet to see how Ben Simmons can respond in the long-term. Kuzma has risen to a status beyond expectations in the short time that he’s been in the starting lineup.
For this point to work in Kuzma’s favor, he’ll have to show endurance and the ability to make a prolonged difference for Los Angeles that they can’t replace.