The Los Angeles Lakers brought in Brook Lopez for a few reasons. One was surely his contract, which will expire at the end of the year and grant the team gobs of salary cap space.
Another was his skill at spacing the floor and posting up, both of which would give a young Lakers team a much-needed security blanket offensively. But one aspect that often goes overlooked is the professionalism Lopez has.
It’s been a factor that’s played a role in his establishing himself as viable NBA player for the past nine years. While it may go unnoticed by some, Kyle Kuzma said he has learned from Lopez’s, via Ben Nadeau of Basketball Insiders:
“[Lopez] has taught me how to be a professional,” Kuzma told Basketball Insiders prior to their game against the Boston Celtics earlier this month. “He’s one of the first guys in the gym, one of the last ones to leave.”
Kuzma added he’s also drawn from Lopez’s handling of off-the-court matters:
“[Lopez] takes care of his body, he stays low-key and is never in trouble,” Kuzma said. “He’s the type of professional I want to be.”
While Lopez has a very different skillset than Kuzma, the rookie nonetheless has used some of the veteran’s habits to produce a breakout season almost no one but himself expected.
When NBA teams aren’t the most the most competitive, it’s easy for fans to ask them to never play veteran players and give whatever young talent it has as many minutes as possible, but Lopez and Kuzma are demonstrating the counterargument to that strategy.
With a dependable professional like Lopez around to take minutes and give an example of how to be successful in all facets of NBA life for players like Kuzma, they’re potentially able to have more success than they would if they were just left to their own experiences.
Lopez might not be around beyond this season, but if he helps the Lakers’ young talent develop solid work habits, his presence could be felt for years to come no matter what he brings on the court while with the team.
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