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Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma wants the ball during crunch time

Kyle Kuzma, Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are in desperate need of a No. 2 scoring option to cement itself in the near future, giving LeBron James a sense of comfort when both on and off the court. Kyle Kuzma is gunning for that role.

James’ partnership with Brandon Ingram has been underwhelming, as the latter has struggled to find that chemistry and mold to playing next to the best player in the league.

Yet Kuzma has shown through this James-less stretch that he has what it takes to thrive in crunch time.

“I want those shots,” Kuzma said after making a clutch step-back 3-pointer in a loss to the Sacramento Kings, according to ESPN’s Dave McMenamin. “I work really hard on my game, super confident, especially in moments like that, I always want the ball.”

Kuzma has envisioned making those same shots down the stretch, even when James comes back from a groin injury that has sidelined him the past two weeks.

“That comes with being a great player,” said Kuzma. “Great players lead winning teams. They lead teams that win, whether that’s down the stretch in big games at crunch time, 10 seconds [left], whatever.”

The Lakers might have misfired with their predicted partnership between Ingram and James, but Kuzma seems to have the mettle to be the Robin to LeBron’s Batman, a tandem that must be forged if Los Angeles has concrete playoff aspirations in a ruthless Western Conference.