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Lakers News: Kyle Kuzma Thinks LA Could Have 'Death Lineup' Like Warriors

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2019

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma in action during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game against the Sacramento Kings in Los Angeles, Thursday, Oct. 4, 2018. The Lakers won 128-123. (AP Photo/Kelvin Kuo)
Kelvin Kuo/Associated Press

Nobody can accuse Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma of lacking confidence in his team's on-court potential.

Speaking to reporters Wednesday, Kuzma discussed how he thinks Lakers head coach Luke Walton can create a five-man lineup similar to what the Golden State Warriors use when they go small with their best players, per the Los Angeles Times' Tania Ganguli:

"I think our small ball unit can be really good. I think we can have a death lineup whether that's [Rajon] Rondo and Lonzo [Ball] on the floor at the same time and me and [Brandon Ingram] and [Le]Bron [James] or substituting guys. I think as we get better defensively and get more continuity, that small ball lineup is going to be huge for us, especially in the playoffs, when everybody's going to be going small."

To be fair to Kuzma, he didn't directly refer to the Warriors, nor did he sound like he was putting Los Angeles' hypothetical small-ball lineup on par with Golden State's five-man unit of Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Draymond Green, Andre Iguodala and Klay Thompson.

Kuzma noted injuries and other circumstances have prevented the Lakers from having the necessary time to truly develop a "death lineup." Rondo and Ingram both missed time because of suspensions, and Rondo had surgery on a ligament in his finger. James, meanwhile, is still nursing a groin strain.

Kuzma's theory still has two problems, though.

James and Ingram are better when Walton staggers their minutes. Ingram in particular has struggled when sharing the court with James.

Then there's the LeBron issue.

The Warriors' death lineup works so well because all of their stars are willing to move the ball to get the best possible shot. As much as James wants to play a positionless style, he's the alpha and omega, dominating in such a way that often runs antithetical to Golden State's approach.

When the Cleveland Cavaliers acquired Kevin Love, some wondered whether they could have a historically great offense centered around James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love. That never happened, in part because so much of the team revolved around James.

Maybe James will be different in Los Angeles, but it seems unlikely he's going to drastically change at this point in his career.

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