Kyle Kuzma Scouting Report & Analysis: Possible Knicks Trade Target

image via Clutch Points

Important Statistics

  • 36.3% from 3, 38.1% from 3 on catch and shoots
  • 52.4% when shooting the corner three
  • 23.9 points per 100 possessions
  • 4.3 free throw attempts per 100 possessions
  • 6.9 rebounds per 100 possessions
  • 1.6 assists and 3.4 turnovers per 100 possessions

Offense

Strengths

  • Shooting (Especially Catch And Shoot)
  • Scoring On All 3 levels
  • Moving Without The Ball
  • Physical When Driving/In Post
  • Finishing Around Rim (Floater, Running Hook, Other Finishing Moves With Both Hands)
  • Aggressive/Gets Downhill When Attacking The Basket
  • Dunking In Traffic

Weaknesses

  • Dribbling
  • Facilitating
  • Shot Selection
  • Drawing Fouls

Defense

Strengths

  • Fast, Long Strides
  • Long Arms And Active Hands
  • Rotates Well, Especially The Corner Three
  • Post Defense/Physical In The Paint

Weaknesses

  • Footwork On Closeouts
  • ½ Second Late On Some Rotations (Mainly Weak Side Help Around The Rim)
  • Rebounding
  • Sags Under Screens And Doesn’t Hedge Hard Most Of The Time
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Kyle Kuzma has a tremendous finishing package and is lethal in transition/catch and shoot scenarios. Kuzma displays his ability to score off both legs on tough floaters, inside the paint in this video (first off right foot, second off left foot). Kuzma is fast and has long strides, leading to him getting open looks in transition. He is shooting 37.6% from 3 this season when he doesn’t take a dribble.

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Kuzma thrives off dribble handoffs and moving off the ball. Briefly in the beginning of the video, he is running baseline against the Clippers zone. He does a great job on offense, spacing the floor and shooting whenever a defender falls back on him. Kuzma has a very quick release and impressive range from downtown.

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Kyle shows off his tough, shotmaking ability, in this video. His finishing package around the basket is fantastic. On back to back possessions he shows his ability to put the ball on the floor and score with both hands. Kuzma utilizes a floater/hook shot with both hands, often when driving to the basket.

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Kuzma displays tremendous energy on cutting and running the floor in transition. He has a knack for finding openings on the perimeter and utilizing his quick release and shooting prowess as well.

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Although Kuzma is known mostly for his scoring, he is also a very capable passer. Here, he displays his ability to draw the defense and throw a behind the back pass amidst the traffic in the paint. This displays great poise for a young player; not forcing the shot and showing impressive vision.

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Kyle’s shooting ability often leads to openings off the dribble (especially after pump fakes). He is physical and fast, dunking aggressively in traffic on many of his drives.

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This is another video displaying Kuzma’s ability to run the floor and his aggressiveness in the paint.

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Not known for his defense, Kuzma is a very sound defender in the post. He is physical and holds his ground when opponents try to back him down. He also doesn’t fall for fakes and stays grounded. After watching film on Kuzma defensively, he’s not flashy on defense; but he generally makes the right play.

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Kuzma is long and athletic, making him a viable shot blocker when smaller players drive on him. Here, Kuzma sticks with one of the best scorers in the league, James Harden, and blocks his shot. Kyle then runs the floor as he always does and drills an open three.

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Kyle plays with a high motor on both sides of the floor. His length (6-9 and a wingspan just over 7 ft.) makes shooters have a hard time getting good looks against him.

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Probably the best part about Kyle Kuzma is his determination to be great. He has a great work ethic and constantly looks to improve his deficiencies.

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Most of Kuzma’s struggles come defensively. He is fast when he takes long strides, but has slow feet on the perimeter. Quick offensive players utilize screens and ball fakes to create space against him. Kuzma’s closeouts are also an issue, not shortening his strides and leading to him committing too much to stopping the jumper. He can improve defensively by having better footwork and sticking to his players better when they take him off the dribble.

Review

Kyle Kuzma is an unbelievable talent and offensive weapon. He has the drive to become one of the top players in this league and will likely overcome his weaknesses that have held him back from being a complete basketball player. Kuzma could add to his game offensively if he drew more fouls and went to the line more. He also needs to work on his ball handling; not only to free himself more, but to be able to utilize his vision and passing to get his teammates open looks. Defensively, Kuzma has issues with foot speed and rebounding. Also, he’s not a premier shot blocker, but can utilize his length and size more around the rim (especially when rotating as weak-side help). Kuzma currently is without a double-double this season and has been used by the Lakers almost exclusively as a stretch-four. He has played approximately 96% of his minutes at the Power Forward position this season and is used primarily on offense to space the floor.

Knicks Fit

Kyle Kuzma would be a fantastic addition to the New York Knicks. His shooting would be a major improvement for New York (last in FG%, 23rd in 3P%, and last in FT%). The issue would be, can Kuzma play SF or can Julius Randle play Center? If the answer is no to both questions, then Kuzma would have to come off the bench. Kuzma can definitely play the three on offense, but his perimeter defense can be shaky at that position. The Knicks like to switch on screens, which would benefit Kuzma if he was guarding quicker/smaller players. This way he wouldn’t need to constantly get over screens and jump out on shooters. Randle likely can’t play major minutes at Center due to his lack of shot blocking. Playing Randle at Center could possibly hinder Mitchell Robinson’s growth as well. I believe Kuzma can play the SF, although it is not ideal, if he joined the Knicks. New York could close out games with a lineup of Payton/Ntilikina, Barrett, Kuzma, Randle, and Robinson. If Kuzma came off the bench for New York, I’m sure he would still play a ton of minutes and hold the keys to the offense.

What Would A Trade Involving Kuzma To The Knicks Look Like?

The toughest part about acquiring Kuzma (other than his talent) is his salary. He is making just under $2 million with 2 years left on his deal. Making the salaries match would be a struggle for the Knicks, who would likely have to trade Morris Sr. ($15 million) in a package to get Kuzma. Assuming these would be the two cornerstones of a deal, the Lakers would need to add salary. Demarcus Cousins ($3.5 million), Avery Bradley (just under $5 million), and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (just over $8 million), would be likely possibilities. If the Lakers were to send a package of Kyle Kuzma, Demarcus Cousins, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and a cheap contract such as Troy Daniels (just over $1.5 million) and/or Quinn Cook ($3 million), a Knicks offer may look like this- Marcus Morris Sr. and Dennis Smith Jr./Reggie Bullock + Allonzo Trier/Damyean Dotson and 1/2 2nd Round Picks.

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