One of the biggest surprises of the NBA season thus far has been the emergence of Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma, who has taken the league by storm with his offensive capabilities and oozing confidence on the court.
In 46 games this season, Kuzma has averaged 16.7 points over 30.7 minutes while knocking down 46.3 percent of his field goal attempts and shooting 38.2 percent from behind the arc.
An excellent first half earned Kuzma a spot in the 2018 Rising Stars Challenge, joining teammates Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram.
The Utah product’s unexpected takeoff has firmly etched himself into the Lakers’ long-term plans going forward, which is especially remarkable considering that he was a late first round draft pick.
Perhaps most impressive about Kuzma has been his calm, but attacking demeanor. Earlier this month, Kuzma stated that holds he the same mentality and approach as Lakers legend and future Hall-of-Famer Kobe Bryant.
Head coach Luke Walton, a former teammate of Bryant, admires Kuzma’s confidence but admitted “it’s probably too early to tell” when comparing Kuzma’s mindset to Bryant’s.
“Kuz obviously has a lot of confidence and he works hard,” Walton added. “Kobe Bryant was the hardest working player I’ve ever seen.
“[Bryant] committed his life to the craft, from 4 a.m. to the moment he went to sleep most nights. Waking up to sit in ice baths or ice bags throughout the night was how he approached it. [Kuzma is] young in his career, but he definitely has confidence and a good work ethic to start down that path.”
Kuzma highlighted a dinner with Bryant earlier this season that has benefited him in more ways than one. He took in valuable advice from the 18-time All-Star and can continue to use him as a research as his playing career progresses.
Having that type of relationship with one of the game’s all-time greats can only lead to further success for Kuzma down the road.
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