If Kyle Kuzma has shown anything during his breakout rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers, it’s that he’s not lacking for confidence.
The barely-heralded forward needed it to surpass all expectations and become the team’s third-leading scorer in his debut season after nearly dropping to the second round of the 2018 NBA Draft. Kuzma has shown an ability to score in bunches all year while averaging 15.8 points per game.
But he didn’t exactly start out hot in the Lakers’ win over the Memphis Grizzlies on Saturday night. Kuzma was shooting just 4-for-15 entering the fourth quarter, however, he caught fire and exploded for 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the final 12 minutes to finish with 25 points.
After the game, Kuzma told Mike Trudell on Spectrum SportsNet that his cold shooting didn’t rattle his confidence entering the fourth quarter:
“Didn’t matter to me. I knew I was taking good shots. A lot of my shots were short but straight on. I’ll miss 20 and still shoot. It doesn’t matter to me.”
He had nearly missed that many before he blew up in the fourth, but once he was rolling, Kuzma was demanding the ball for his decisive 3-pointer that gave the Lakers a decided 96-89 lead:
“I just told Luke, ‘Let me get a chance, let me get the ball.’ They got the switch on me, and I work on that move every single day with coach Simon. I had confidence in it.”
Kuzma’s work with assistant coach Miles Simon paid off in allowing him to lead the way for the Lakers to snap a four-game losing streak. And if he can continue to stay as confident as he’s been this season even when he’s missing, Kuzma could be set for a long career.
All signs thus far seem to indicate Kuzma won’t be easily shaken and that he’s more than aware that he’ll miss 100 percent of the shots he doesn’t take.