In just one year Kyle Kuzma went from relatively unknown late first-round draft pick to arguably the most popular player on the Los Angeles Lakers roster. Many were unsure whether Kuzma would be able to maintain his play from Summer League and preseason once the regular season began.
He proved that he was more than capable and believes that he exceeded his expectations coming into the season. “I think for the most part I definitely felt like it was exceeded,” Kuzma said at his exit interview.
“A lot of people didn’t expect me to do all the things I did this year coming out of Utah. I really just wanted to prove I could be at this level, proved I belonged, and over the course of the season I think I did that.”
Kuzma also proved that he can provide whatever the Lakers needed on any given night. The coaching staff wasn’t content with letting him be just a scorer, they pushed him to expand his game. And as one of the few players to remain relatively healthy for most of the season, Kuzma also had to play multiple positions.
“The coaching staff allowing me to play this year helped me evolve my game,” he said. “I never really had the opportunity to play on the wing until coming here, so it was definitely an adjustment period.”
But now that Kuzma has a better idea of what it takes, it will help him during his offseason workouts. “It just tells me how to approach the summer by being a basketball player and not doing pick-and-pop drills, but also doing a lot of guard things,” Kuzma explained.
“Coming off pin-downs, shooting, ball-handling pick-and-rolls, really just refine everything.” In other words, Kuzma simply wants to be a complete player like the other stars in the league.
“My main thing is I want to win and become a complete player,” he added. “All the complete players are the top guys in the league, so if I’m not complete then I won’t be up to that level. For me, that’s just what I’m about and where I’m trying to go.”
One thing Kuzma won’t be doing is playing a second year in the Las Vegas Summer League. Kuzma will simply be working on his game and keeping an eye on what moves the Lakers make in the offseason.
He’s already made it clear that he and the rest of the Lakers aren’t relying on the organization to sign free agents in order to reach the next level, but that didn’t stop him from giving his own sell job.
“Who wouldn’t want to play in L.A.? Sunshine, there’s women here, great basketball,” Kuzma said with a smile. “There’s so much you can do here, so why not come here?”
WANT TO PARTICIPATE IN THE DISCUSSION? CHECK OUT THE NEW LAKERSNATION FORUM CLUB