The recent injury bug has been unfortunate for the Lakers, but it's also served as a huge test for their youngsters. With LeBron and Rondo gone, it has been up to their young core to step up and get the job done.
So far, the results have been underwhelming... except for Kyle Kuzma, who has gone off since the injury to LeBron. He has been averaging almost 25 points over the last 10 games, quickly becoming their go-to scorer during this mid-season stretch.
As a result, the stock on Kuzma is rising. In a quote by one former league executive to Bleacher Report's Eric Pincus, Kuzma may have even become the Lakers' highest value player.
“He’s a legitimate scorer that fits the modern NBA perfectly. Kuzma has the highest value of the [Lakers’ young prospects]. He’s the most proven.”
It's been known that the team has been unwilling to deal Ingram so far, as they see his potential for growth as something apparently invaluable. But Kuzma? He might be the key to the Lakers acquiring their star.
If they strike out this free-agency, they might look to trade Kuzma to get LeBron the help he desperately needs. Or, if Kuzma improves even more, he could take Ingram's place as untradeable. It'll be interesting to see what they decide to do this summer if Kuzma continues to raise his value.