Kyle Kuzma was a part of Team USA's camp last summer. He also signed a huge endorsement deal with Puma and looked poised for another breakout season with the Lakers. He then got hurt and started off slowly.
Kuzma never truly turned the corner this season with LeBron James and Anthony Davis leading the way. Coming off the bench didn't help him that much and he's posting career-lows all around the stat sheet.
Obviously, it's tough to find a rhythm when you go from being the team's second gun to their third scoring option. That's why his coach Frank Vogel isn't worried about his development as a player, claiming he's only being criticized because people compare him to other players his age posting better numbers:
“Obviously he can get a lot better — he’s a young player, but he brings a lot to the table right now. And he’s in a difficult predicament because a lot of his counterparts at his age that are on teams without established superstars are getting bigger roles, and he certainly is capable of that, but his role is going to be different on this team. And he’s had great acceptance of trying to find ways to contribute to winning basketball and has had a great attitude about it," Vogel told SB Nation.
Vogel went on to add that Kuzma will end up soaking all in and that his role with the Lakers will make him a much better player in the long run. At the end of the day, he's only on his third season in the league and is 24 years old:
“It’s actually helped him to round out his game so to speak, rather than just focusing on scoring. The defense, the rebounding, the hustle plays that maybe you’re not focused on as much if you’re the young focal point of an offense. So I think in the long run this is really going to help his career," the coach concluded.
Kuzma is averaging 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 1.3 assists and 1.3 three-pointers per game on 43/29/73 shooting splits so hopefully, those numbers will trend up in the playoffs but in case they don't, he's still got plenty of time to prove his worth in the league.
There's a reason why the Lakers held on to him in the Anthony Davis trade despite giving away most of their young core.