Whitlock explains why Kyle Kuzma is more important to the Lakers’ future than Lonzo Ball

Video Details

Jason Whitlock and Colin Cowherd welcome in Jim Jackson and Jason McIntyre to discuss the Lakers’ rookies Lonzo Ball and Kyle Kuzma.

- Whitlock, Kuzma has been really good day one. Is he actually more important in the Lakers' future than Lonzo Ball?

- Yes, yes. He can score, and it's a league about scoring. And listen, I watched that game last night. Lonzo had a nice finish to the game in the fourth quarter. First three quarters, Lonzo was no impact. He was actually a negative. He couldn't shoot, couldn't hit the broad side of a barn, and then when he gets the ball he's no real threat. He had a nice little finish. Kyle Kuzma was a beast. Young kid. I know he's two years older than Lonzo. They got the steal in the draft, and Kyle Kuzma, he's going to be a better player than Lonzo throughout the entirety of their career.

- They already have Kyle Kuzma. It's called Brandon Ingram. I mean I love Kuzma.

JASON WHITLOCK: Better body than Ingram.

- No, I like him, but I-- would we even talk about this game if Lonzo wasn't a Laker? This would be just a random NBA game. We wouldn't care.

JASON WHITLOCK: They just stopped a 15 game winning streak. A young team with Kyle Kuzma, started the game 8 of 8 or 9 and 9 from the field. Yeah, we would talk about this game. The Rockets were the hottest team in basketball, and they just got beat at home by a young Lakers team.

- But they didn't have Lonzo. They don't have a point guard. They don't have a culture changer. They're just a bunch of young guys that can't--

JASON WHITLOCK: Lonzo changed the culture?

- He did.

COLIN COWHERD: Yes.

- He did.

COLIN COWHERD: They're 9th in assists. Yeah.

- They're number one in pace. They are pushing the basketball. They're playing defense this year. They were 30th in defense last year, and they're now 8th in the league in defense efficiency.

COLIN COWHERD: How about that?

- And here's one thing, Kyle Kuzma didn't get a lot of minutes earlier this year because Luke Walton had issues with his defense, so he had to play Larry Nance a lot more than Kuzma. Now Kuzma's defense is coming around, but again-- 6' 6" point guards. They don't grow on trees. We saw Lonzo block James Harden last night. Jim, you're what, 6' 6"?

JIM JACKSON: Yeah.

- Yeah, they don't think-- you weren't a point guard. This is a point guard who's 6' 6", pushes tempo, he's the culture changer for the Lakers.

- Internally, that's what they talk about with the Lakers, when I talked to some guys there. It's just what he's bringing to the table. He's allowing guys to kind of play with a sense of freedom. The ball is moving. Culturally, they love playing with him. Here's my thing, Kyle Kuzma, I love him to death how he plays. But he's not going to be my number one guy. He's just not.

JASON WHITLOCK: Neither is Lonzo.

- Ingram is their number one guy. He's going to be-- he has the most upside. You talked about the body type of Kuzma. Well, Kuzma's still a couple of years older than Ingram, too. Ingram still has to fill out. I would take Kuzma as my second guy, my third guy. As my number one? No. But I do believe he may be more valuable on a team, kind of like Draymond Green's role is, where he's the most valuable--

- Who?

- Kuzma.

JASON WHITLOCK: Kuzma?

- Yeah, Kuzma. He's really maybe the most valuable team to that, because of all the little things that he does.

- Let me explain something to you, Jim.

- What?

COLIN COWHERD: Yeah, let him explain.

JIM JACKSON: Talk to me.

- You're falling for the hype.

- What hype?

- With Lonzo. Oh, internally, here is what they say. He does all these intangible things. This is like every woman I've ever dated.

- OK.

- She tells her girlfriends oh, he's got a great personality. Oh, his career is this. Oh, he's-- blah blah blah blah. Again, they talk about all the intangibles I bring.

- Right.

- When you date someone, they say oh, he's 6' 6", he's handsome, he could be in movies, blah blah blah. Don't fall for the intangibles.

- But I'm not.

- The hype.

- I'm going by what I see. This is what they tell me. Now when I see guys, the Laker team, play totally different. When I see them giving the basketball up, when I see them sharing the basketball, when I see the communication--

JASON WHITLOCK: That's not Lonzo.

- It is too Lonzo. You can't say it's not, because here--

- You know why I can say it's not?

- Why?

- What way do you think Luke Walton wants them to play? He comes from The Golden State system and the steam curve--

- But they had that last year. They had that last year.

- They weren't learning, and--

- And who did they have running the point?

- --just starts to embrace it.

- Who did they have running the point? Exactly.

- D'Angelo Russell.

- My point. So they couldn't play that way.

COLIN COWHERD: So if Luke still wanted him to be like Lonzo, he wouldn't be.

- And so they got a guy who plays hot potato with the ball, and he's great.

JIM JACKSON: Oh, come on.

COLIN COWHERD: Come on man.

- He's not--

- He's not what?

- He's not a threat when he has the ball. He's not attacking the rim and creating--

- He's 19 years old.

- He's 20.

- He's 19.

- He's 20.

- He's 19. It feels like he's 20.

COLIN COWHERD: By the way--

- But my point is, he's young. Give him a chance to grow, and then we can have this conversation. Not his rookie year.

- Selfish is contagious. So is giving. Kobe's last year on the Lakers, they were last in assists. Melo's average with the next 25th. The Lakers are 9th in assists-- 26, last year-- and they have no shooters. Kuzma is their only pure shooter. Can you imagine if they give Lonzo a shooter or two?

- Could you imagine if Lonzo could shoot? That's what you meant to say.

- I don't want my point guards to shoot. I like givers, not takers.

- Magic wasn't the best shooter, baby.

- That's right.

- Magic was not the best shooter.

- When did Magic ever shoot 48% from the free throw line and 30 some odd percent from the field.

As I As I said, Magic was not a great shooter, but what he did culturally for the Lakers--

COLIN COWHERD: Yes.

- --is what I'm talking about.

- My head has almost exploded.

- What?

- You just compared Lonzo to Magic Johnson.

- I said culturally, and not a shooter.

COLIN COWHERD: Magic. Magic. Comparing Lonzo to Magic.

- Hold it, Jason. You trying to tell me I can't compare and say that-- one, you said he can't shoot. I said Magic couldn't shoot. Eric Snow couldn't shoot.

- Yeah.

- Hold up.

- You have to compare--

JIM JACKSON: Hold up, no no--

- That's a right comparison.

- But here's my thing. But he was valuable enough to get things done. That's what I'm saying. So don't put it on one thing and say he can't shoot. Magic couldn't--

- Don't compare him to Magic Johnson.

- --shoot. I can compare him to Magic.

- Why you keep comparing him--

- Because Magic--

- Magic Johnson was--

- --couldn't shoot.

- --one of the greatest players of all time.

- But Magic couldn't shoot.

- And you about someone that totally changed the culture.

- But Magic couldn't shoot.

- It's-- It's--

JIM JACKSON: OK. Agree to disagree.