In his first season with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyle Kuzma showed he is unafraid of taking big shots with the game on the line. In fact, he revels in it, and it’s all because of the players Kuzma grew up idolizing.
In an interview on ESPN LA 710’s “Lakers Talk with Allen Siwa,” Kuzma said that his favorite players growing up were playing that could take over in the fourth quarter like Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and LeBron James:
“There’s a lot of people I probably admire. I’d say the main ones would be Kobe of course, LeBron of course and Tim Duncan. Those guys are really clutch basketball players, especially from me watching and growing up looking at the Kobes of the world, the LeBrons. Those guys bring it all the time in fourth quarters, and not only just in fourth quarters, but just in general.”
Kuzma has made it no secret that he’s a big fan of Bryant’s and he’s even drawn (probably too early) comparisons to the Mamba when he’s carried the Lakers in the fourth quarter. While he hasn’t been able to do it as much with James on the team this year, he’s still statistically one of the most clutch players on the roster.
According to NBA.com, Kuzma scored the second-most points per game (2.2) in the final five minutes of the game. For context, James has averaged 2.8 points per game in that range.
Kuzma would be a more valuable option in crunch time if he could stay in front on his man on defense, but his ability to create and make his shots when the team desperately needs a bucket is a huge asset for L.A.
Kuzma might never be the generational players Bryant and Duncan were and James currently is, but it’s clear that he picked up a few things from them growing up, and that he can help the Lakers in crunch time using those skills.
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