Rajon Rondo has already said that this Los Angeles Lakers roster and its young core watch more film as he’s ever seen a team watch, but head coach Luke Walton made it sound like even in that type of work environment, the commitment Kyle Kuzma is showing to getting better stands out.
“I got Kuz texting me at 12:30 at night the day after games. (He sends me) these random clips and videos from his phone, asking me what he should do,” Walton said after the Lakers’ Monday practice. “When we talk about culture, that’s what we’re talking about, and part is just going out and getting guys that want to get better.”
Kuzma certainly fits the bill, and he’s even learned what types of plays he can ask his coach to help him improve on.
“They’re defense. Kuz knows not to send me offense,” Walton said, drawing laughs from the contingent of assembled media. “We’re working on his defense.”
The Lakers have had to work on Kuzma’s defense at multiple positions, including at center, where he played for the first time this preseason. The experiment went less than ideal at first, with Kuzma struggling against bigger, bulkier players and then looking fatigued on offense. However, he had already said earlier during the preseason that he thought the extra film work was helping him progress:
"I just really tried to look at the game film from game one and try to switch it up game two, and watch film of other small-ball fives in the league and try to face my mistakes. I think I did a much better job."— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 3, 2018
This anecdote is also yet another example of Kuzma taking a page out of the Kobe Bryant playbook he loves so much. The two players aren’t really all that comparable at all, and Kuzma obviously has a long way to go before he could be considered anywhere near that level, but just in terms of the way teammates and coaches talk about their work ethic, there are similarities.
It remains to be seen how much the film work pays off for Kuzma, or how long the small-ball five experiment with him continues, but it’s an encouraging sign that he realizes he has a long way to go to be up to par at center and that he’s working diligently to get there.
The whole thing is just one more sign of the culture the Lakers are trying to build.
You can follow Harrison on Twitter at @hmfaigen.