The bubble version of the Los Angeles Lakers has been less than ideal, but the truth is they don’t have an incentive to give it 100 percent every game right now. They have their seed locked up, guys are recovering from lingering issues, and there’s nothing left to accomplish in the regular season.
Now, this doesn’t mean that the games have been totally unwatchable. Just look back to Monday night’s victory over the Denver Nuggets. In a tightly contested game that had some playoff intensity to it, the Lakers escaped with a 124-121 victory after a last-second 3 from Kyle Kuzma to seal it. I mean, it doesn’t get any prettier than this folks.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) August 11, 2020
Following the game, the King had some high praise for the young star and acknowledged just how important his success is for the Lakers and their title hopes.
LeBron on Kuz: "In order for us to win a championship he has to be our third best player.” He added that if LeBron or AD doesn’t have it going, Kuz has to be the second best player.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) August 11, 2020
Those are some indicative words from LeBron James, but they ring true. Taking a look at the box score from Monday night’s victory, the Lakers’ top three scorers in order were James, Davis, and then Kyle Kuzma. The three combined for 81 points on a night where most of the team struggled to get it going offensively, and it was just enough to beat out a Denver team that played their reserves most of the second half. Having a consistent output from Kuzma will be crucial once the games actually matter again.
This game had absolutely zero impact on the Lakers’ playoff hopes, but it still served a purpose. Setting up that final play for Kuzma was no accident, and on a team with LeBron James and Anthony Davis, it probably caught the Nuggets by surprise. Head Coach Frank Vogel wants to give the youngster some big moment experience because he knows how important it is to go into the playoffs with the confidence that you have what it takes.
This season will be Kuzma’s first shot at the playoff stage, and if Monday night was any indication, he’s ready to help this Lakers squad win a title.