The NBA is most exciting when young stars are budding across the league. The talent pool is ridiculous in the Association. Some players are just waiting to sprout into the player they have the potential to be. It is best to take this subject by division since I want to pick a breakout player for every team. The Pacific Division contains the Los Angeles Lakers, Los Angeles Clippers, Phoenix Suns, Golden State Warriors, and Sacramento Kings. Aside from the recent success from the Warriors, this division has been overruled by the great L.A. Lakers. They even won the championship last season and are looking to repeat. The Warriors and Kings are looking to retool their respective teams for a playoff run. While the Clippers and Suns made moves over the past two seasons to bring star talent to their cities to contend for a title. Though it seems like more of the same Laker dominance, this season should provide some competitors out of this division. The one thing all of these teams could use is some breakout stars to separate themselves from the rest.
(Photo By: Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images)
The Los Angeles Lakers have one of the most stacked lineups in the NBA, if not the most stacked. This team has arguably the top two players in the NBA and two finalists for the sixth man of the year last year. On top of all that talent, they have good youth developing in the rotation in Kyle Kuzma, Talen Horton-Tucker, and Devontae Cacok. These young players will all have great seasons this year, but the player with the greatest improvement will be Kyle Kuzma. Kuzma showed plenty of promise as a rookie and second-year player averaging over 15 points per game. He has had to take a bench role over the past season with the acquisition of Anthony Davis and did not acclimate to the new role well. Not to say he did not accept the bench role, but more that he did not perform well with it. His efficiency dropped across the board on fewer shot attempts. Typically fewer shots will result in higher efficiency, so this is shocking.
This year, I expect Kuzma to tap into the ability we all saw him display in his first two seasons, this time, off the bench. A year under his belt coming off the pine should teach him that it is a different game from there. He needs to lead the second unit as if he is the best player on the team. Fresh off a championship and shortened off-season, the Lakers will be resting LeBron and Davis as much as possible to keep them ready for this year's playoff run. Kuzma needs to be able to work alongside Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder and take more shots when LeBron and AD get their rest. Another thing that will him improve is the defenders added to the lineup. Kuzma is a poor defender, and being able to hide him by playing Horton-Tucker and Harrell with him will let the Lakers play Kuzma more minutes as a pure scorer. With the increased role and signs of improved efficiency, Kuzma will have a much better year.
Author: Daniel O'Donovan