The Los Angeles Lakers have a rookie that’s catching the attention of national media and hopes of fans, but it isn’t Lonzo Ball. It’s Kyle Kuzma, who’s been far-and-away the most impressive Laker player through exhibition.
He was also arguably the most impressive Laker through Las Vegas Summer League, and at some point, it has to be said that Kuzma is actually a tangible quantity in the NBA. That the question is being posed only a handful of games into preseason is telling of just how good he’s been every time he steps on the court.
Kuzma’s averaging a team-high 19.5 points, attached to another team-high with 7.8 field goal attempts per game. His 30 percent shooting mark from outside isn’t phenomenal — he’s become the go-to release valve for the offense — but he’s shooting 62 percent overall. Beyond the numbers, simply watching him play is enough to believe he’s more than a flash in the pan.
Lakers head coach Luke Walton is certainly a believer, watching the No. 27 pick’s focus push him to the front of the pack.
“It's how he shows up every day. Even in practice he doesn't take days off... that's a lie. Last practice he was kinda soft, but he told me he was sick so I'm giving him a pass on that one,” Walton joked when asked what he’s seen in Kuzma that makes him believe all of these positives will carry forward.
“He literally shows up to play, no matter what it is, if it's 3-on-3, a shooting contest, some pre-practice drill work... he's always competing. If you have a motor like that that drives you to compete then it's... being a consistent basketball player is much easier.”
While the Lakers haven’t exactly gotten off to a running start of a new era of basketball, the Kuzma bandwagon has yet to stop rolling through the NBA. There’s still time to hop on, folks!
*Quotes transcribed via Lakers.com