The Los Angeles Lakers were unceremoniously booted from the postseason this past week.
A combination of factors led to the defending champs getting ousted, everything from injuries to bad chemistry.
One other contributing factor? The continued inability of Kyle Kuzma to play up to the potential he displayed as a rookie. One sequence in particular during the Lakers-Phoenix Suns playoff series illustrated this perfectly.
This week, following the Lakers’ ouster from the postseason, Kuzma offered a reflection on the year that was. It was a little bizarre.
“I’ve been through a bunch of different eras here — a rebuilding stage, LeBron’s first year here and figuring out and win championships and then this year…
“Only speaking for myself I think this year I made incredible strides of becoming a winning player, making the right play, being a real valuable asset on a defensive end. I got a lot of growth in me. I can’t wait to get there.”
On one hand, Kuzma is sort of right. His three-point shooting did go up from 31 percent to 36 percent and there have been noticeable defensive improvements over the past couple of years. On the other – it’s hard not to look at the 25-year-old’s four-year Lakers run and not feel like he has regressed.
Sure, some aspects of his game have improved – but as a rookie he flashed star potential. In the years since, he has proven himself barely worthy of being a starter.
That’s one way to watch a game. https://t.co/rlfZSR4DDe
— Game 7 (@game7__) May 13, 2021
In the first round against the Suns, for example, when LA needed him most, he scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting from the field in his team’s Game 6 defeat. It was just his latest disappointing outing, after he put up zero points in Game 1, two points in Game 2 and eight points in Game 3.
At one point, as many as three teams expressed interest in acquiring Kuzma. Will any of them step up to bat this summer and make a deal for the youngster? Time will tell.
Charles Kruger has been credentialed to cover two Super Bowls, four NBA Finals, and one World Series. A 20-year veteran in the sports world, he has sources spanning the NBA, MLB, NFL, UFC and NASCAR. Currently residing in Los Angeles, Calif., he is Game 7’s go-to source for rumors surrounding the Lakers, Clippers and Dodgers.