Aside from being the only holdover from a once-promising young core for the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyle Kuzma is their lone representative taking part in Team USA training camp.
Kuzma has been busy putting in his bid to play on the USA Team for the 2019 FIBA World Basketball Cup in China. It seems Kuzma has now accomplished two dreams in getting a chance to play for his country and San Antonio Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich.
Popovich has long been revered as the most well-respected head coach in the NBA due to his tremendous success with the Spurs. It is clear that his track record has not gone unnoticed by the 24-year-old.
Kuzma shared some high praise for Popovich and even admitted that he is his all-time favorite head coach, according to USAB.com:
He’s my favorite coach of all time. Growing up, I’m a hoops junkie, watching a lot of the Spurs teams and he’s won. He’s won at every level he’s been at. So, to be here and learn, to be around him, it’s really great.
Kuzma added that he is hoping to take in as much knowledge as he can from Popovich and the rest of the coaching staff:
A little bit of everything. He’s been around the game for years and years and years, so I want to be a sponge. Not just Pop, we have Jay Wright here, Steve Kerr, so many great coaches. To learn from everyone is going to help me out tremendously.
Kuzma’s admiration for Popovich and his coaching staff is certainly understandable considering all the household names that have been brought together. It is part of the reason why Team USA is still expected to dominate the competition despite all of the NBA’s biggest All-Star players dropping out for their own personal reasons.
The onus will undoubtedly be on the coaches to make do with the batch of players that are looking forward to helping this team defend their crown. Fortunately, there is plenty of optimism that what they lack in quality, they can make up for in quantity thanks to their tremendous depth at each position.
The silver lining in all of the All-Star players dropping out is that it opens things up a bit more for young players like Kuzma looking to take their game to the next level.
He still faces plenty of stiff competition for a spot on the final roster, but there is no denying that this whole experience is going to help him for what is to come with the Lakers moving forward.