With 2019 NBA training camp less than two months away, much of the attention for the Los Angeles Lakers has been on if they have a third All-Star player on their roster.
While a healthy DeMarcus Cousins is more than capable of fulfilling this role, Kyle Kuzma’s name has also been brought up as the last member of the team’s young core now.
As there could be situations where Anthony Davis and Kuzma play together, the former still wants to play more power forward than center for the 2019-20 NBA season.
Regardless if Kuzma ultimately starts or comes off the bench, he expressed confidence in taking the next step, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
“Bench, whatever, I’m still going to get my game off regardless,” Kuzma told The Athletic. “My past two years, I’ve come off the bench every single year. I just proved myself and made it known that I’m a player. A coach’s job is always to put the best players on the court, and that’s what I’ve showed the past two years.
“I’ve started the year coming off the bench, and just prove myself. I’m always going to find my way no matter who’s on the court. I think every time I step on the court, I’m one of the better players on the floor. For me that’s always been my mentality. I’m never worried about things that I can’t control.
However, Kuzma is motivated to be that third All-Star player:
“My motivation is there to be that third guy,” Kuzma said, “for the simple fact that playing with LeBron, with AD, I got high dreams for myself to do some pretty special things in my career. So that’s motivation in itself. It’s a testament to my work ethic and laying down the groundwork for my past two years being in the league.
As it currently stands, Cousins or JaVale McGee is expected to start at center to allow Davis to play most of his minutes at power forward. While Kuzma started 68 out of 70 games for the 2018-19 season, he could be a valuable sixth man.
Although this would be a significant role change for Kuzma, the reality is he could still play starter-type minutes and finish games, which should ultimately be his priority.
With depth around Davis and LeBron James, numerous players including Kuzma will likely have to make individual sacrifices if they want to win it all in the 2020 NBA Finals.