While young Laker forward Kyle Kuzma has been a standout on the offensive end over the course of his first two seasons, his development on the defensive side of the basketball has come around a bit slower. Kuzma has all the tools to be an effective NBA defender and with an offseason spent putting more of a focus on that side of the ball, he could be in line to take the jump as a legitimate two-way star in the NBA.
Follow the Heavy Los Angeles Lakers page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Donovan Mitchell Talks Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma’s Defensive Development
Currently, in the final round of cuts with USA Basketball for a spot on the FIBA World Cup roster, Kuzma has drawn praise from a number of teammates and coaches – specifically regarding his coachability and hard work. In fact, as seen in the video above, Jazz standout Donovan Mitchell even mentions how he’s picked things up defensively. Citing an increased desire to not only improve but to challenge himself with tough assignments on that end, Mitchell paints a promising picture for Laker fans heading into next season.
Kuzma’s defensive improvement has the potential to unlock a whole new look for the Lakers as being able to utilize him in defensive-minded lineups allows the Lakers to keep a certified bucket-getter on the court and still generate some offense. Especially with the Lakers adding two-way threats Anthony Davis and Danny Green, a Lakers’ defensive unit has the chance to create chaos on both ends of the floor.
Avery Bradley Could Be the Lakers’ Secret Weapon
Speaking of defense, it wasn’t very long ago that Avery Bradley was widely considered one of the best perimeter defenders in the league. With a first-team All-Defense to his name in 2016, Bradley has struggled with injuries and awkward team fits since leaving Boston that summer – never quite looking like the same elite defender. While his shooting – especially from deep – looks to be a bit improved, it should be interesting to see if Bradley can get back to his old ways with a fresh start on the Lakers.
Expected to come off the bench, Bradley could prove to be one of the most important role players on the Lakers. Capable of stepping in and harassing any position on the perimeter, Bradley offers a versatile defensive weapon capable of helping to counter some of the league’s elite three-point shooting teams – like Golden State. As a result, expect Bradley to see some big minutes off the bench and be used in a variety of different looks given his defensive versatility.
Bradley, along with fellow reclamation project DeMarcus Cousins, look to be the difference between the Lakers being a playoff-caliber team or an NBA Championship-caliber team. If the Lakers can get some vintage production out of their free agent signings, it is hard to imagine another roster capable of matching up with the slew of elite talent the Lakers will have both in the starting lineup and coming off the bench.