National Basketball Association

Kuz Control

August 11

Throughout the 2019-2020 NBA season, there might not have been a more dominant duo than LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

But their title hopes might rest in the hands of the youngest player in the Lakers rotation: Kyle Kuzma.

Kuzma has had an up-and-down season, posting the lowest points average in his three-year career (12.8) as well as a career low from the field (43.6%).

But it appears Kuzma is catching his stride as the Lakers' legitimate third option behind James and Davis at the perfect time. In the Orlando bubble, Kuzma is averaging 15.4 points and has scored in double figures in six of the Lakers' seven games, scoring 20 or more points twice.

Last night, he threw in a game winning jumper against the Nuggets just for good measure.

After the game, James made it clear that Kuzma is the X-factor for the Lakers:

James isn't the only person that feels this way, either.

Skip Bayless believes that Kuzma is the key for Los Angeles.

"The closer for this team should be this kid, because he is completely fearless."

Taking a big shot such as the one Kuzma took to win the game against the Nuggets normally would go a long way towards boosting a young player's confidence on a team with two stars.

But as Chris Broussard points out, confidence has never been lacking with Kuzma. Instead, it's the little things such as defending at a high level that have changed the outlook on the Lakers young forward.

"If Kuzma can be on the floor at the end of games and give them something of a big three, that is huge for them. The problem with Kuz is you haven't been able to keep him on the floor late in games because of the defense but in the bubble he has been focused defensively. He's played some of the best defense I've ever seen him play in the bubble. If he can stay that way and they can have him on the floor late, that'll be huge."

Whichever version of Kuzma shows up in the playoffs could decide the Lakers fate.

So far, so good in Orlando.


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