Considered by many to be the steal of the 2017 NBA Draft, Kyle Kuzma was among the reasons the Los Angeles Lakers were expected to further improve this season. That sentiment multiplied exponentially when the team signed LeBron James to a four-year contract.
But that didn’t deter Kuzma or create any sense of comfort. Just like he stressed during his exit interview, the offseason was nonetheless used to build upon a selection to the NBA All-Rookie First Team.
Kuzma drew plenty of praise throughout the offseason for his commitment in the weight room and gym, and that’s carried into Lakers training camp. “He didn’t rejoice and be happy and satisfied with his rookie season,” answered LeBron James when asked about Kuzma.
“He came back stronger and faster and more explosive.”
The Lakers held their first scrimmage of training camp on Tuesday, and Kuzma was among the standouts to JaVale McGee. The center credited the entire young core for being “hard workers.”
But as a fellow Michigan native, McGee has a certain affinity for Kuzma. “I just see that Michigan heart in him,” the veteran center said.
“You see all the players from Michigan in the league, not all of us go through trials and tribulations but you can just tell that all of the players from Michigan, we go hard. We don’t care about anything else outside of the game of basketball. We just go hard. You can see that in that young fella.”
While playing alongside James can both be a blessing and a curse, Kuzma and the rest of the young Lakers have fully embraced the opportunity and challenge. They also have made it clear they intend to do much more than simply ride his coat tail.
Kuzma in particular has taken it upon himself to seek guidance and mentoring from James.