Any NBA player, much less a rookie, would be more than excused for getting hyped up over setting new career-highs in scoring in back-to-back games, but Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma isn’t most rookies.
After scoring 30 points to set a new high for most points in a single game by a rookie this season and becoming the first Lakers rookie since Magic Johnson to go for 30 and 10, Kuzma was left relatively nonplussed by his achievement because it didn’t lead to the result he was looking for.
“It’s cool but I’m a winner,” Kuzma said. “Stats don’t really matter to me. I want to win.”
A fitting statement for a player who just got dinner with Kobe Bryant,.
Kuzma has now scored 54 points over the last two games, the sixth-highest total in the league over that span, with Kuzma trailing only James Harden, Joel Embiid, LeBron James, Kemba Walker and Damian Lillard over that time.
It’s unlikely Kuzma will stay in that group the whole season, but just vaulting himself in there is an incredible achievement for a first-year player who is quickly building an argument as the team’s most promsising core piece.
Kuzma not getting enjoyment out of those accomplishments might be a good sign for the Lakers long-term as well, because as positive as it is that Kuzma is finding individual success, his ability to look past his own stats and be motivated by the win column will serve the team well in that he’ll likely be accepting of whatever type of complementary role the Lakers ask of him once the team gets better players and there are less shots to go around.
That’s still a ways off, though, and while Kuzma won’t be celebrating his back-to-back career-highs any time soon, it’s okay for Lakers fans to bask in his consistency.
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