It doesn’t sound like Danny Green enjoyed the free agency process very much, but he does seem pretty psyched to have ended up on the Los Angeles Lakers at the end of all of it.
Green has spoken at length about how excited he is to get the chance to play with LeBron James and Anthony Davis on a contender, and how he thinks the team can “make something special happen.” He’s also said that he’s been blown away by how quickly James, Kyle Kuzma and other Lakers reached out to him to make him feel like part of the group.
It turns out, though, that Kuzma’s welcome wagon isn’t the only reason Green is pumped about the chance to play with him. Green said on ESPN Los Angeles that he also thinks the sky is the limit for Kuzma’s potential:
”Every time we played against them he’s killed us. Maybe one time he didn’t. But he has a lot of potential, man. For a guy his size, he has great touch and a great understanding of the game. The young kid has only been in this league for a couple years. So he’s ahead of his time, I think he has a lot of potential to do some great things in this league, not just for our team, but for this league. I consider him a potential All-Star.”
Green isn’t the only person to reveal how highly they think of Kuzma this summer. Lakers head coach Frank Vogel loves Kuzma’s potential, and Anthony Davis said Kuzma is one of the reasons he’s so happy to join the Lakers.
The Kuzma hype has even taken hold outside of the Lakers, as USA Basketball director Jerry Colangelo recently spoke about why he felt compelled to invite Kuzma to the team’s training camp next month.
All of this has highlighted an interesting dichotomy between the way those inside basketball seem to view Kuzma, and how outside analysts/the internet view him. Online, Kuzma was often talked about on a much lower tier than the rest of the former Lakers young core, while people with the Lakers and around the NBA often discussed him as at the very least having an argument as the best prospect of them all.
The debate seems to get at a discrepancy between how those parties view the game. From the outside looking in, it’s easy to point to Kuzma’s sometimes inefficient scoring and the fact that he’s a relatively “old” prospect at 23, and thus should have been expected to be better right away than his younger, former teammates.
At the same time, we also can’t totally dismiss how everyone around the league talks about Kuzma, and how they value his work ethic and commitment to mining every last bit of his potential. Time after time last year, the coaching staff would praise how much extra effort Kuzma was putting in to address his weaknesses, and it’s clear that his swagger and smoothness while scoring the ball has also caught the rest of the NBA’s attention.
We likely won’t know for some time who will end up the best player among the Lakers’ former young core for quite some time, but it’s at least worth opening ourselves up to the possibility that everyone in the league isn’t wrong about Kuzma, and that maybe there is a reason the Lakers saw him as untouchable in the Davis trade talks. It’s at least theoretically possible that he can live up to the hype he keeps getting from teammates and coaches alike.
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