He’s the top player in the young core — and it’s not even close
Remember all of the issues that the team ownership had with a lack of leadership from previous players along with the lackluster play that’s sometimes evident in the players they have now? Well, they don’t exactly have that problem with Kyle Kuzma.
With his 38 point against the Rockets, Kuzma’s career-high in scoring is now bigger than Brandon Ingram’s (32 vs Golden State). Ingram was supposed to be the team’s leading scorer this season, at least in Magic Johnson’s view point from over the summer, but instead Kuzma has emerged as a top scoring option.
He’s excelled now against the best team in the Lakers’ conference and has also done a tremendous job of making the most of an opportunity to start when Nance Jr. missed time. Neither Nance Jr. nor Julius Randle have as much promise as Kuzma, and the fact that he’s also got great chemistry with Lonzo Ball also weighs into how well he’s played at times.
This does put the Lakers in a predicament if he continues to play well into the off-season, as it would directly conflict with what Johnson seems to have in mind in pursuing Paul George when he’s free from Oklahoma City.
But perhaps the best option for the Lakers at this juncture is to just work with what they have. Should Kuzma become an even more lethal weapon, we’ll have to start seriously considering if this dark horse team could actually beat a Western Conference juggernaut in any part of the post-season.
Look, the Lakers also need someone who can be a great down low player. Kuzma can do a little bit of everything, and if his points per game are anything near what they were versus Houston, the Lakers might’ve seriously solved one of their biggest issues moving forward.
Realistically, that leaves them with a shooting guard and center to figure out for the long-term and they’ll be set for the immediate future. In terms of his scoring average, he’s now actually ahead of big names like Carmelo Anthony and Ben Simmons, with plenty of more room to grow.