Kyle Kuzma received a huge honor this summer as he was selected to take part in the Team USA training camp for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
This was due in part to a large number of players withdrawing themselves from consideration including Kuzma’s new teammate Anthony Davis, but it remains a big opportunity for the young Los Angeles Laker and he plans on taking advantage of it.
As it currently stands, Kuzma is one of 16 players taking part in the training camp with the roster being trimmed to 12 by San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich. In prior years, players have used Team USA as a launching point for the upcoming season and Kuzma would love to do the same. One player who sees that happening is Klay Thompson.
Thompson recalls doing the same for himself in 2014 and he believes Kuzma playing for Team USA will pay huge dividends for the upcoming 2019-20 NBA season as he told Arash Markazi of Los Angeles Times:
“I know him playing for Team USA is going to pay huge dividends for him because that’s what it did for me. … That was the turning point in my career, playing against international superstars. If he goes out there and plays hard and puts the team on his shoulders, that’s going to give him so much confidence coming into this season like it did for myself in 2014.”
Of course, Kuzma still must make the final roster and that is no guarantee. Even with all of the withdrawals, there are still a number of young All-Star caliber players attending training camp including Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Kemba Walker, Khris Middleton, and De’Aaron Fox. The competition will be fierce without a doubt.
For someone like Kuzma, who wasn’t a big-time recruit or a high draft pick, this invite is validation for the hard work he’s put in since making the league. Team USA Director Jerry Colangelo basically said as much in explaining the invite for Kuzma.
As Thompson pointed out, Kuzma would be playing against some of the best players in the world should he make the roster and having a great summer would give him a running start heading into his third season. Kuzma would already be in shape and while he has never been short on confidence, it would give him even more of a boost before the most important season of his young career.