For the second time in his young career, Kyle Kuzma will represent the Los Angeles Lakers at the NBA’s All-Star Weekend. Not only will he be participating in the Skills Challenge on All-Star Saturday night, but he will once again be playing in the Rising Stars Game on Friday.
However, while Kuzma is grateful for an opportunity to participate in the weekend’s many festivities, he told reporters that he hopes to one day play in the big game on Sunday night (via Lakers.com):
“I always write down goals every single year, and next year’s is definitely going to try to be in the big game on Sunday, try to be an All-Star. I always just try to work hard, and coming here is like a payoff for working hard so many years, and I’m just happy to always be here.”
With how much talent there is at the forward spots in the Western Conference, it’s highly unlikely that Kuzma makes an All-Star game any time in the near future, but of anyone of the Lakers’ current roster outside of LeBron James, Kuzma has the best chance to do it.
The All-Star game typically rewards players that put up big numbers, and Kuzma is the second-leading scorer on the Lakers, averaging 19.1 points per game on 46.7 percent shooting from the field.
He was also the second-leading fan vote getter on the team with 1.11 million votes, which was notably more than All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns and LaMarcus Aldridge got. He also got more votes than Dirk Nowitzki, who was a special addition to the All-Star game along with fellow soon-to-retire veteran Dwyane Wade.
Kuzma believes that Nowitzki doesn’t get enough credit for his illustrious career, which includes an NBA All-Star game, a league MVP and 14 All-Star appearances:
“I think that Dirk does not get the respect he (deserves) as an all-time great. I think he’s probably one of the most underrated players, because he went to the Finals that year, and then the year that he beat the Heat, he beat LeBron and Wade, swept Kobe and beat the Spurs... That’s crazy, and nobody ever talks about it.”
Kuzma said that he’s tried to copy Nowitzki’s signature shot, but hasn’t tried it in a game yet out of fear of what Luke Walton might say:
“I’ve tried to get the one-leg little fade, but Luke might cuss me out if I shoot it in a game. I haven’t mastered that one yet. Maybe this summer.”
Maybe Kuzma will pull out the one-legged fadeaway during the Rising Stars Game, which will air on TNT at 6 p.m. PST.
After all, Walton can’t tell him anything about a game he isn’t coaching.