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Lakers coach Frank Vogel shares optimism about Kyle Kuzma despite up-and-down start

Frank Vogel, Kyle Kuzma, Lakers

Trade rumors surrounding Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has been swirling around as of late. A big reason why he is reportedly on the trading block is his uninspired play for the Purple and Gold, struggling to find his footing in the team’s much-improved roster this season.

Despite Kuzma’s recent struggles, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel remains optimistic with the third year forward, believing he will soon adjust to his new role with the team.

Kuzma missed the Lakers’ first nine games of the season after a serious ankle injury he sustained with Team USA over the summer.

This was the first time the 24-year-old Flint, Michigan native had to endure an injury setback, as he had been quite durable during his first two seasons as a pro. In fact, he missed just a combined 17 games from 2017-19 with the Lakers.

Kuz did get his rhythm back after a few games and appeared to fully embrace his reserve role for Coach Vogel. But inconsistent showings have hounded him so far this year, often relegated to the bench in closing minutes of the game.

Moreover, his numbers are significantly down from last year, recording just 11.8 points per game from 18.7 points just a season ago. His usage also took a big dip, averaging just 23.5 minutes per game compared to 33 minutes as a Lakers starter last season.

Kyle Kuzma is actually shooting better from the field (42.6 percent) and from 3-point territory (34.6), albeit with much lesser touches on offense. It also doesn’t help that Kuzma has failed to improve his defense in his third year in the league, which further limits his usage in the Lakers’ defense-oriented system.