Los Angeles Lakers third-year forward Kyle Kuzma has been one of the team’s positive developments in the Walt Disney World bubble.
After struggles during the regular season to find his place within the rotation while also become more consistent on both ends of the court, Kuzma managed to find some of that during seeding games.
Not only did his jump shot become more consistent – with his 3-point percentage getting a major boost – he’s also greatly improved as a defender. Kuzma attributed that to the ability to work on his lower body during the hiatus, something he couldn’t do over the summer due to injury.
But whatever it is that has helped Kuzma, it finally looks like he’s figuring out what type of NBA player he’ll be. For Kuzma, though, the work is far from over.
“It’s an everyday challenge,” he said of becoming an all-around player. “It’s all about getting better every day. Us athletes may say that and it kind of goes over peoples’ heads, but to me that’s what it is.
“I’m far away from being the defender I want to be and I’m far away from being the offensive player I want to be. It’s all about just every day trying to get better and compete. Not only compete against my teammates in practice and opponents, but competing against myself mentally every day.”
Kuzma doesn’t appear to be satisfied with the improvements he’s already made to his game, even if fans are beyond happy about it. For him, there’s always work to do to become the best version of himself.
A lot of this work is mental, as he navigated exactly where he fit in to a deep Lakers roster. The Lakers needed him to be a versatile defender, capable of guarding multiple positions with ease. While at the same time, he needed to be someone who can score consistently, even if it’s on a lower shot count than he’s used to.
With that part of it being figured out, Kuzma can start to nitpick and figure out exactly where these improvements need to come. Playoff experience should help to mature Kuzma very quickly.
LeBron James calls Kuzma the key to winning a championship
In order for L.A. to win this year’s championship, there’s no doubt that James and Anthony Davis will need to bring their best on a nightly basis. However, according to James, Kuzma is the one who can push the Lakers over the edge.
“In order for us to win a championship he has to be our third-best player,” James said. “And if I’m struggling, or A.D. is struggling, he has to be our second-best player on any given night. We can’t win a championship if Kuz doesn’t play well.”
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