Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma has already exceeded the wildest expectations most have for a player taken with the 27th overall pick in the NBA Draft. And he’s certainly shattered norms for players selected in that range during their rookie seasons.
Kuzma is leading the team in scoring with 16.8 points per game while also shooting a team-high 39.2 percent from 3-point range to help the spacing-starved Lakers. He paced the team with 28 points off the bench in a 108-107 victory over the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.
But while proving doubters wrong like that would often give a player a feeling of extra significance going into a matchup with some taken before them, Kuzma denied such was the case with fellow rookie Jayson Tatum.
However, that wasn’t to suggest Kuzma has forgotten how may and which players had their names called before him on Draft Night.
“I don’t have a team-like thing, but I can name everybody that got drafted ahead of me,” Kuzma said.
When reminded that entailed 26 selections and asked if he was certain of being able to name each, Kuzma didn’t waiver.
“Yeah. Not that hard,” he said.
Twenty-six names to memorize isn’t a mind-boggling amount, especially when one of them is a teammate in Lonzo Ball, but it shouldn’t be surprising that Kuzma is fueling himself with those who doubted him.
NBA players who have reached the league are among the top one percent of the one percent among basketball players in the world. And they usually don’t have a significant amount of doubters left to prove wrong in the grand scheme of things.
Still, these athletes have to look for motivation where they can find it, and Kuzma isn’t resting on his laurels now that he’s made quite a few of the 25 general managers who passed on him look pretty foolish. Instead, he’s letting their mistakes fuel him and making certain that no one ever doubts just how talented he really is ever again.
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