SPORTS

Mike Conley, Kyle Kuzma Listed Among Top 5 Underachievers This Season

Apr 14, 2020, 2:37 PM

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)...

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

(Photos courtesy of Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – According to The Score, Utah Jazz point guard Mike Conley and former Utah Utes and current Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma are listed among the top 5 players in the NBA who have underachieved this season.

Josh Weinstein put out an article with the 5 players in the league to have underachieved. Along with Conley and Kuzma, Weinstein added Denver Nuggets guard Gary Harris, Philadelphia 76ers big man Al Horford and Indiana Pacers center Myles Turner to his list.

Mike Conley

There might be no player in team history that put on a Jazz uniform under a bigger microscope than Mike Conley did when the Jazz acquired him just before draft night in 2019.

The anticipation for Conley was so great that even the franchise kept the first images of the point guard in a Jazz uniform private until they announced the return of the purple mountain jerseys in late August.

Before the season came to a halt on March 12, Conley was averaging 13.8 points, 3.2 rebounds and 4.3 assists per game.

Early on, Conley badly struggled with his shot in a Jazz uniform, causing an undue amount of handwringing amongst fans.

Here is what The Score said about Conley in their article:

Upon his arrival just before the 2019 draft, many Jazz fans felt the acquisition of Conley meant their team would compete against the Western Conference’s upper-echelon clubs. Unfortunately, it’s now abundantly clear that Conley hasn’t helped Utah become a legitimate contender.

Conley has largely regressed in his first season with the Jazz. While a nagging hamstring injury likely had a role to play, the drop-off in his scoring, efficiency, and distribution numbers is jarring.

Further, the veteran point guard has failed to ease Donovan Mitchell’s heavy offensive workload, as the pair have struggled to develop chemistry.

In fact, when Mitchell is on the court without Conley, the Jazz score 114.1 points per 100 possessions, which ranks in the 82nd percentile league-wide. However, when Conley operates without Mitchell on the floor, Utah’s offense regresses, producing 107.9 points per 100 possessions (28th percentile).

Kyle Kuzma

Kuzma had a fantastic start to his NBA career in the first two seasons in the league. In his third season, the former Ute has had to adjust to some changes with the Lakers. His production and minutes decreased because of the addition of all-star big man Anthony Davis.

The Lakers have been listed as contenders for an NBA title coming into the season with the addition of Danny Green and Davis, joining forces with LeBron James. Kuzma went from a starting role to coming off the bench.

Kuzma averaged 16.1 points per game in 31.2 minutes in his rookie season. In his second year, his points per game average jumped to 18.7 points in 33 minutes per contest. This season, Kuzma’s average dropped to 12.5 points in 24.6 minutes per game.

Here is what The Score said about Kuzma in their article:

Kuzma’s failed to be the reliable third scoring option behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis for the revamped Los Angeles Lakers, as he’s struggled to get into a scoring rhythm in his first stint as a full-time reserve.

The former 27th overall pick is connecting on a team-worst 29.7% of his 3-point attempts. Considering Kuzma shoots 4.4 threes per game, that translates to one of the league’s lowest efficiency marks this season. On a roster lacking complementary shot-creators, his inability to provide consistent bench scoring and floor-spacing is troubling.

However, Kuzma’s struggles go much further than just his inefficient shooting. He’s proved to be one of the NBA’s least-effective all-around contributors, recording a team-worst -0.5 VORP and finishing with the 26th-lowest VORP league-wide.

For a player many expected to have a breakout year playing alongside high-usage stars in James and Davis, Kuzma hasn’t lived up to the billing.

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Mike Conley, Kyle Kuzma Listed Among Top 5 Underachievers This Season