Durant says Kuzma 'Should've been lottery pick'

NBA.com Global on Dec 24, 2017 07:53 AM
Durant says Kuzma 'Should've been lottery pick'
FILE - ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 30: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers shoots the ball against the Minnesota Timberwolves during a preseason game on September 30, 2017 at Honda Center in Anaheim, California. (Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images)

NBA.com staff report

The Golden State Warriors have beaten the Los Angeles Lakers three times (including twice in the last five days) over the course of their 11-game winning streak. But all three games were close (two went to overtime) and the last two have allowed Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma to make an impression.

Kuzma leads all rookies in scoring at 17.7 points per game, and has done so on an efficient 51 percent clip from the field (and 41 percent from three-point range). In his two games against the champs this week, Kuzma totaled 52 points on 19-for-31 shooting.

Those two performances impressed Finals MVP Kevin Durant (who shot 43 percent as a rookie), as NBC Los Angeles' Shahan Ahmed writes:

Though the Warriors would eventually claim a 113-106 victory, with Kevin Durant getting the on-court postgame television interview with a game-high 33 points, along with seven assists and seven rebounds, this game was anything but an easy practice session for the Warriors.

"Kuzma should have been a lottery pick," Durant said about Lakers' rookie Kyle Kuzma in that postgame ESPN interview. "Kuz is a problem. I like him."

The 22-year-old rookie out of the University of Utah scored 27 points and pulled down 14 rebounds in the loss. Friday's game brought Kuzma's streak of 20-point games to four, including a 38-point outburst in Houston on Wednesday.

"He's shown maturity," Lakers coach Luke Walton said about Kuzma's development in the Lakers' recent brutal schedule of games on Spectrum SportsNet after the game. "He's just a great competitor. And I think that's why he's had these great nights. Obviously, more minutes, more opportunities in that starting lineup and he's taken full advantage of that. Give him credit."

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