Kyle Kuzma had a far better rookie season with the Los Angeles Lakers than even the most ardent believers, and perhaps even Kuzma himself, could have expected.
Kuzma wasn’t perfect however — no player, and especially not a rookie, is. And as is common for young players, the speed of the NBA game was a tough adjustment for Kuzma.
Pace, that’s the biggest thing,” Kuzma said during an appearance on “Area 21” on TNT. “In college, you got everybody playing hard 100 percent, and in the league it’s like that too, but (in the NBA) you’re going and stopping, but then you’re going again. That’s the biggest thing for sure is learning how to do that. And then defensively, pros and college, it’s two different sports if you really look at it.”
But even with those growing pains, Kuzma was still stellar, tying for team lead in scoring with 16.1 points per game while shooting 45 percent from the field, production good enough to make him one of the highest-scoring rookies in Lakers history.
As for what allowed him to have so much success during his debut campaign, Kuzma knew part of it was simply staying healthy.
“[My body] held up well. The weight room, that’s the biggest thing, I think that’s why it held up, staying in there, keeping your body right,” Kuzma said. “And listening to the few vets we had on our young team who were really dialed in on that.”
He also learned the value of watching film.
“You play 50-plus games before the break, so you’re going to get comfortable, but a lot of it’s film,” Kuzma said.
Kuzma already approaching his rookie season like an experienced veteran is a promising sign for his development moving forward, and would appear to suggest he has plenty of room left to grow as long as he stays healthy and keeps watching film.