Forward Kyle Kuzma is thriving in his bench role with the Los Angeles Lakers this season, thanks to a challenge from LeBron James.
The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off their seventh-consecutive win on Friday, where they defeated the Memphis Grizzlies 115-105 on Friday night. While Anthony Davis got a majority of the credit for his 35-point performances, forward Kyle Kuzma shined in his role off the bench, where he tallied 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Kuzma became a depth player ever since the Lakers acquired Davis in that massive trade with the New Orleans Pelicans. There was so much talk about whether the Lakers would send the young forward elsewhere after a rather down 2019-20 season.
But then, Lakers superstar LeBron James gave Kuzma some pivotal advice, and he bought in.
“It all depends what you want in this sport, to be honest,” LeBron James said, via Dan Woike of the Los Angeles Times. “… Do you want to score a bunch of points but sometimes it doesn’t really matter or doesn’t make a difference in winning or losing? Or do you want to be a part of something special where you continue to get better, you continue to make an impact and you have a role on the team where you’re playing for something more than the sum of your individuality?”
Kuzma shines off the bench
Kuzma obviously bought in last season, and it paid off in the form of his first-ever NBA championship. After the confetti settled, the Lakers and Kuzma agreed to terms on a three-year, $40 million contract extension two days prior to their 2020-21 season opener.
Sure, Kuzma is not getting the starting minutes like he did in his first two seasons in Los Angeles, but he gets to be on a championship contending team on a year-in, year-out basis (as long as James and Davis remain with the Lakers).
Through 27 games this campaign, Kuzma has averaged 10.7 points and 6.0 rebounds while shooting 44.2-percent from the field. His showing on Friday was his best performance since Los Angeles’ 107-92 loss to the Detroit Pistons, where Kuzma tallied 22 points (9-of-17 from the field)and 10 rebounds.
Kuzma will look to build off his performance against the Grizzlies on Sunday night when the Lakers face the Denver Nuggets.