Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma was impressive in his first NBA start, putting up 21 points on 11 shots to go along with 13 rebounds in a win over the Brooklyn Nets that left his teammates raving about what he can bring to the starting unit.
After the game, however, Kuzma said he wasn’t’ worried about whether he’s starting or not.
“No, not really. I just want to play minutes and help the team. Whether that is starting, finishing the game, playing five minutes, or being a cheerleader I don’t really care,” Kuzma said.
Kuzma may not mind coming off of the bench, but his play might just secure the starting gig for him long term. Kuzma brings skills at shot creation and shooting that the Lakers’ other power forward options simply don’t possess.
In addition to helping the team, they’ve made him a fan favorite, with the crowd cheering every time he enters the game and even serenading him with “M-V-P” chants at the free throw line against Brooklyn. Kuzma is grateful for the love he’s getting from Lakers fans.
“It’s awesome to have fan support. Not too many players have a whole arena do that in their NBA career. I love it and really appreciate it,” Kuzma said.
Kuzma has earned the support with his play while averaging 15.7 points per game to rank second on the Lakers in scoring while also far exceeding the expectations for an average No. 27 pick.
He might say he doesn’t care about starting, but Kuzma’s play could make that a moot point. If he can continue to improve upon what he’s shown so far, he Could potentially lock up his spot in the starting lineup, even when Larry Nance Jr. returns from injury.
Still, it’s a good thing for the Lakers that Kuzma has this type of mindset. Some players struggle to accept getting sent to the bench at times, but it appears the Lakers won’t have that problem with Kuzma if they ever do need to change up his role. His strong play in his latest one just makes it seem like they probably won’t have to worry about that, though.
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