The Lakers for several months were rumored to be trading for Anthony Davis. Don’t get me wrong, he is a generational talent and will probably go down as one of the greatest big men to ever play this game when it’s all said and done. I’m happy that he is on our side and that he has a chance to go down as one of the all-time Laker greats. He can kick start his Los Angeles Laker career playing alongside one of the other all-time greats in Lebron James.
With that being said, the topic of this article isn’t mostly about him. The Lakers had to pay a price. A price in which I thought was…a lot. The Lakers gave up Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, Josh Hart, and a load of picks that are protected, unprotected, and swapped picks that just get really complicated. Considering the market for Davis, I personally thought a trade for him would have only taken one of Brandon Ingram/Lonzo Ball, one of Kyle Kuzma/Josh Hart, and however many picks you need to add including the 4th overall pick. My ideal package would have been Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, 4th overall pick, 2021 1st round pick, and the 2023 1st round pick. But the Lakers spent a lot, again though, it is Anthony Davis.
Kyle Kuzma is the only standing from the Lakers young core. But in no way should he be let off the hook. Mind you, Kyle Kuzma is a great prospect. He is only 23 years old, can play, theoretically, more off-ball then Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, and that’s basically it. He took a step back his sophomore season even though his PPG average increased. His shooting took a step back and only improved slightly in his defense.
For me, the only reason I would have not put Kuzma in a deal for Anthony Davis is because of his income salary this coming season. It’s no secret. We know the deal. The Lakers obviously want that third star next to Lebron James and Anthony Davis. Kuzma can be that third star but there are just so many flaws in his game that he has to improve on to get a shot at that. I personally thought Brandon Ingram would bring much more star power and was on the verge of breaking out next season and would have made a deadly trio with Davis and Lebron. But he is making $7,265,485 compared to Kuzma’s $1,974,600. Because I think Ingram has more star power in him, I thought the Lakers should have held on to him in where this league is made of stars.
Look at it from this perspective. If you flip Ingram and Kuzma’s salary in which Ingram makes Kuzma’s and Kuzma makes Ingram’s, I think you are looking at a whole new ball game. You probably see Kuzma in the deal for Davis and the Lakers holding onto Ingram. Same could go for Lonzo Ball as I also think he is a better prospect then Kuzma.
The Lakers intentions are to go after that third superstar whether it would be Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving, or Jimmy Butler and Kuzma’s salary gives them more flexibility to do so. It’s a salary cap league. Teams have to play the salary game. It sucks because I think it’s the only reason why I believe Brandon Ingram is gone. Ingram to me had the better potential, all-around game, and was overall better then Kyle Kuzma.
But let’s not act like Kuzma isn’t a good player either. Having two players that can play like guards in the front court? That is deadly and scary for opponents to deal with. But even if the Lakers do acquire that third star, which I think they well, Kuzma is still under pressure to perform well because the Lakers chose him to be the last one standing out of the young guys because of financial reasons mostly. After going through stages with, D’Angelo Russell, Julius Randle, Larry Nance Jr, Jordan Clarkson, Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball, Ivica Zubac, Anthony Brown, and Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma is the only left from the young guys and you could argue that several players on that list are much better then Kuzma.
No doubt in my mind that Kuzma is made for this. He’s been through adversity is whole life so this may be a challenge that’s “easy” for him. He can thrive off of Lebron and Anthony Davis and he is going to be a crucial part in making this championship run for the forseeable future. Will he be a Laker for life? Well, that remains to be see. But he is the only young guy left and I will be rooting for him hard to be as great of a player he can be.