Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has been one of the best rookies in the NBA this season, and his play would be garnering him more buzz for a potential Rookie of the Year Award if not for cooling off or Ben Simmons existing.
That type of campaign was hardly expected of Kuzma when the Lakers selected him with the 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, a range in which players generally have more flaws or take a bit more time to develop.
Kuzma hasn’t needed that type of adjustment period as he came on and immediately led the Lakers in scoring despite coming off of the bench for most of his first season so far. He’s since given way to second-year forward Brandon Ingram as the team’s leading scorer.
Nonetheless, Kuzma’s success has been nothing short of impressive. He recently explained the mindset that’s allowed him to play at this level early on in his career, via Jack Jensen of Slam Magazine:
“I really want to be one of the hardest workers in the NBA,” Kuzma says. “I think that’s really important. You know, everybody wants to be the best but doesn’t necessarily put in the work. KD or whoever else is at the top may be more talented or more skilled, but I want to outwork guys.”
Kuzma’s drive towards greatness has already been endorsed by none other than Kobe Bryant, so it would appear the first-year forward is already on the right track towards reaching his goal.
He’s also not wrong about what it’s going to take to make him great. Kuzma was already among the within the top percentile as an isolation scorer, but he hasn’t been content with just that. In recent weeks, Kuzma has shown progress as a more-engaged defender and become a rapidly improving passer as well.
Kuzma won’t be done improving after just one season, but if he keeps the same mentality that’s allowed him to show such rapid progress already then he’ll be on the path to greatness he so obviously covets.
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