In the five games before Kuzma suffered an eye abrasion against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Tuesday, he was averaging 18 points on 50% shooting from the field, including 46.9% from 3-point range on three attempts per game. He also posted a box plus-minus of +4.8 during that stretch.
Maybe the best part of Kuzma’ run, though, was the fact that he did it all while keeping his new head coach Frank Vogel pretty happy. After Kuzma’s 13-point effort against the Sacramento Kings last week, Vogel said that he’s satisfied with how Kuzma has played “for the most part.”
“That was the message after the Phoenix game when he had a big offensive night, most of it within the offense, and I thought he carried that over to the Golden State game,” Vogel said.
It’s not just Kuzma that’s held to that standard, though. Vogel said he wants the Lakers to be one of the more disciplined offensive teams in the league.
“There are a lot of teams that want to have a wild, wild west type of mentality and shoot the first kind of shot you can get. It doesn’t matter if it’s guarded or not. We want to be smarter than that. We want to have a culture on the court of not settling, of trusting the pass and playing for each other,” Vogel said.
Kuzma didn’t always follow that philosophy. In his first few games back from injury, he tried to get himself going on offense, but to no avail — shooting 37.5% from the field, including 12% from 3-point range, in his first four games.
Since then, he’s settled into his new role and has played some of the best basketball of his career. Following the Lakers’ win against the Atlanta Hawks — a game in which Kuzma scored 11 points of his 17 points the fourth quarter — Kuzma said he’s starting to trust his shot more.
“(I’m) just being aggressive, being in attack mode. Any time I feel like I’m open, I’m gonna shoot it. I’m confident making shots,” Kuzma said.
“My shot feels great. Just spent a lot of time working on it this summer. You know, obviously it’s kinda tough to get thrown into a fire, can’t expect to make a lot of shots right away, but I just stayed to my form and stayed to all the work I’ve done, and it’s falling.”
Hopefully Kuzma’s fashionable new goggles don’t throw off the groove he’s in, because when he has it going from the field, the Lakers are a ton of fun. And when the Lakers are having fun, it usually seems to lead to a win.