Lakers: Luke Walton is oblivious for benching Kyle Kuzma

(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images) /

With Larry Nance Jr. set to return from injury, rookie Kyle Kuzma may be relegated back to the bench. This move only showcases how out of touch Lakers head coach Luke Walton really is.

The Los Angeles Lakers are one of the most interesting teams in all of the NBA. Despite owning a 9-11 record and outside the playoff picture, the Lakers are one of the most talked about teams in the NBA. Rookie sensation Lonzo Ball is one reason. Some love him, some hate him, some label him as a bust and some love his playmaking ability.

Ball alone is shining a big spotlight on the Los Angeles Lakers. However, he is not the only talked about rookie in Tinseltown. Rookie power forward Kyle Kuzma, who was selected with the 27th overall pick, has become the steal of the NBA Draft.

Kuzma has been making his case for the NBA Rookie of the Year award alongside Ben Simmons. The 22-year old is averaging 16.8 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game on 49.8% shooting.

Kuzma started on the bench and was eventually moved to the starting unit after Larry Nance Jr. suffered a hand fracture in early November. Kuzma has started 11 games since then and has scored double digits every single game.

With Nance expected to return against the Clippers on Monday night, practical wisdom says that his return would be back to the bench. Although Nance does bring a certain flair to the starting lineup, Kuzma has made his case to remain in the starting five.

Except that is not the case. Trevor Lane of Lakers Nation reports that Nance is likely going to resume his starting role, moving Kuzma back to the bench. Although this move can be twisted positively in some way, this only proves how out of touch Luke Walton really is.

Kuzma will likely see very similar minutes off of the bench than he would have in the starting lineup. With Julius Randle also in the second unit, I understand the benefit of having two great scorers. Nance is a better rebounder and does help the first unit in that aspect. Heck, he may even play better with Brook Lopez, as Walton has stated.

More from LA Sports Hub

However, what is undeniable is Kuzma’s chemistry with Ball. Although the two will still share time on the court, the duo feeds off of each other in the starting five. Moving Kuzma to the bench takes a lot of that chemistry away.

What makes this move so concerning is Walton’s apparent stubbornness. Walton decided to start Nance over Randle and Kuzma and looks to prove something by giving him the starting role. This is not a Lakers team that is ready to contend, so protecting a rookie makes sense.

However, Kuzma has arguably become the Lakers most popular player. Kuzma has lit up the NFL scene and has given Laker fans something to cheer about. In favor of his own stubbornness, Walton would rather give the Laker fans Nance.

Nance is a great player and a ferocious dunker, but the fanbase wants Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma has proven he has what it takes to be a starter in the NBA. Heck, he is the ninth-best scoring power forward in the league.

Next: Should the Lakers bench Lonzo Ball?

I’m sure Kuzma will find his way back into the starting rotation when his time comes. While this move may not hurt the Lakers in terms of wins; it shows that Luke Walton is out of touch with what his fans want and deserve.