The Los Angeles Lakers have done a surprisingly good job of staying afloat while LeBron James and Anthony Davis are out. The team just went 4-3 on a seven-game road trip and have gone 6-8 since LeBron was hurt. All things considered, things could be a lot worse.
A big reason they’ve been staying afloat is because of the team’s role players stepping up. Kyle Kuzma is one of the guys who has played well. On Tuesday against the Charlotte Hornets, the veteran forward posterized Bismack Biyombo on a dunk. LeBron was so hyped that he had to react to the highlight.
— Austin Boyd (@austincjboyd) April 14, 2021
Kuzma hasn’t developed into the full-fledged star that many thought he would but he’s been a good piece for the Lakers. He’s improved quite a bit on defense and is still capable of making highlight plays. LeBron has been very high on the young forward for some time and it’s nice to see him step up with the team dealing with so many injuries.
The latest Los Angeles Lakers news straight to your inbox! Join the Heavy on Lakers newsletter here!
Join Heavy on Lakers!
Kuzma Praises Team’s Defense
Somehow, the Lakers continue to be the NBA’s best defense even without their two best defensive players in LeBron and Davis. While head coach Frank Vogel deserves a ton of credit for how he prepares his team to play defense, the players have also done their part. Kuzma recently praised the team for their efforts on defense.
“I think during this stretch we’ve been really great defensively not having our voice out there in LeBron and someone that just erases mistakes with AD out there,” Kuzma said, via The Athletic. “And for us to continue to do that without having those guys out there, it’s going to be scary for people when those guys get back. So, that’s given us confidence.”
If the Lakers are playing defense this well without their two best players, it’ll be very interesting to see how the team does once they return. It’s easy to dismiss the team as contenders while they’re dealing with injuries, but when they’re healthy, there probably isn’t a better team in the NBA.
Vogel Proud of the Lakers
It would’ve been easy for the Lakers to completely fall apart after LeBron went down. They had a grueling road trip and played some really tough teams. Instead of accepting defeat, the team has done an excellent job of staying afloat. If they can stay at the fifth seed until at least Davis comes back, Los Angeles will be in a really good spot. Vogel is very proud of how his players have preserved.
“I couldn’t be more proud of the effort they’re putting forth night in and night out,” Vogel said. “Like I said, having been stretched thin with all the injuries and we wanted to win some games along this stretch. You have seven straight road games and come out of that plus.-500 with not only Bron and AD out, but seemingly a new guy out each night.
“It’s just been a challenge. So to come out of this stretch 4-3, we’re happy with. But we’ve still got a lot of work to do.”
READ NEXT: Ex-Lakers Starter Lands With BIG3 Team After 2 Years Away From NBA