Although the Los Angeles Lakers were clicking on all cylinders prior to the NBA shutdown in March, Kyle Kuzma was still in the midst of a roller-coaster season on the court.
The restrictions placed in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic came with a set of challenges for players trying to stay in shape during quarantine, especially during the initial uncertainty of a season restart.
Despite his fluctuating performance this year, there is hope that Kuzma can emerge as a bit of an x-factor in the playoffs. However, he still finds himself in unfamiliar territory given all the success the Lakers have enjoyed for the first time in his career.
Not only is the team on the verge of clinching the top seed in the Western Conference, they remain one of the title favorites as play resumes at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida.
While having to prepare for his first playoff appearance under the circumstances was hardly ideal, Kuzma is excited for the chance to perform on the NBA’s biggest stage.
“It means a lot, and that’s why I’m taking it so serious. Like I’ve said over this whole quarantine, I’ve kind of just been preparing my mind and body. Just getting ready for this opportunity,” he said. “Not many players have an opportunity to win rings, and I have a chance to do that in my third year and really make moves with my career going forward.
“That’s important. Guys can go across this league and average 20 or 25 (points) and never win. I don’t want that. I want a legacy and to do something as a kid I’ve always wanted to do.”
Kuzma added that the prolonged hiatus gave him ample time to get back to 100% from a physical and mental standpoint.
“I feel unbelievable health-wise. I feel great. Throughout the season had some injuries, played through injuries, but the break allowed me to physically get 100%. Mentally, I’ve been reading, meditating and painting a lot. Just preparing my mind for the playoffs. I feel great,” Kuzma said.
It is certainly encouraging to see that Kuzma embraced the challenges that have come with ending the season on a high note. He even managed to double down on remaining focused on the task at hand by saying he will only take one bag of clothes and one bag of shoes to Walt Disney World.
Tinkering with mechanics
Among the physical work Kuzma did during the quarantine period was making a slight adjustment to his shooting mechanics. He downplayed the change, and also noted he’s able to play a bit more freely as the Lakers look to fill the voids of Avery Bradley and Rajon Rondo.
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