USA Basketball tipped off their training camp on Monday and among the players hoping to make the final, 12-man roster for the FIBA Basketball World Cup in China is Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma, one of the few remaining players from the first round of invites.
The No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, Kuzma wasn’t expected to suit up for Team USA after just two seasons in the NBA, but with career averages of 17.3 points and 5.5 rebounds per game, he’ll have the chance to do something only a handful of players get to do during their careers.
After the team’s first practice on Monday, Kuzma said he’s hoping to use his USA Basketball experience to improve as a player and—if he’s lucky—bring home some hardware at the end of it all (transcripts via usab.com)
I just want to be a great player. I don’t like to sit out; I like to play basketball. It’s my life. So, for me to have the opportunity to play for USA Basketball and have a chance to go and win a medal, you can’t beat that. You don’t get that opportunity all the time.
Kuzma could be joined by a few of his 2017 NBA Draft classmates, including Donovan Mitchell, Jayson Tatum, Bam Adebayo and the recently-promoted De’Aaron Fox. Having also played with Mitchell, Tatum and Fox in the Rising Stars Game at All-Star Weekend, Kuzma is acquainted with most of his potential teammates and he thinks those relationships will pay dividends on the court in China:
How important is that familiarity when you only have a few weeks together?
We have a few weeks, about a six-week commitment. For us it’s all about getting that camaraderie right now and being able to gel in time for China.
What are your goals individually and as a team over the next few weeks?
To improve. I like to try to improve every day and as a team, obviously, it’s to win. That’s the standard that USA Basketball has put out for the longest time.
The USA Basketball roster will be finalized on August 17. If all goes right over the next few weeks, Kuzma will be representing the Lakers on it.