Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma erupted for a career-high 38 points in the team’s upset win over the Houston Rockets, and while the rookie has been really good this year, the performance was still unexpected for a few reasons.
For one, Kuzma’s previous career-high was 30 points. Additionally, Kuzma filled in the rest of the box score as well, as he was the first rookie to rack up at least 38 points, seven rebounds and four assists, with seven made 3-pointers since Jason Kidd did so in 1995.
Additionally, Kuzma became the first rookie ever to produce such a stat line while shooting above 70 percent from the field.
Perhaps the only person the performance didn’t surprise might have been Kuzma, who barely expressed any emotion whatsoever when asked if he expected to have a night like he did against the Rockets as a rookie, via NBA TV:
Confidence is 🔑
— NBA TV (@NBATV) December 21, 2017
Given that Kuzma also professed that he hadn’t a night like that since he was in grade school, that level of confidence is eerily reminiscent of former Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant, who actually gave his approval for Kuzma’s display of Mamba Mentality on Twitter following the game:
— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) December 21, 2017
Maybe the confidence Kuzma is displaying here shouldn’t seem so insane given how many expectations he’s shattered already.
Numerous analysts didn’t project Kuzma as a first-round pick (he was). Most prognosticators certainly didn’t expect him to win Las Vegas Summer League MVP (he did).
Even after that, most didn’t anticipate Kuzma would play a big role, and certainly not start, for the Lakers (he’s done both, and even intermittently led the team in scoring). As Kuzma continues to grow through his rookie year, maybe everyone should start expecting scoring and confidence like this from him.
Or at least anticipate Kuzma to expect it after how wrong analysts have been about him the whole way.
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