The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma: The Making Of An NBA Rookie Sensation

The Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma: The Making Of An NBA Rookie Sensation

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Kyle Kuzma Lakers
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

From the moment that Kyle Kuzma stepped onto the court in Summer League, and ended up the Most Valuable Player in the championship game, it was clear to anyone with a scintilla of basketball knowledge that he was special.

He has played in a mere 21 NBA games, but most would already agree that the question is not whether Kuzma will become a star, but how fast he will get there and how far he will go. Playing for a storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise, Kuzma is under a microscope as one of the team’s promising young talents.

Much has been written about him, but aside from the basics, such as where he was raised and went to school, and how good he performed at the draft combine in May, no one knows much about Kuzma the man and what he does behind the scenes.

Clint Parks is not only Kuzma’s trainer, the two became friends after meeting during Kuzma’s redshirt freshman season at the University of Utah. He is the owner of Clint Parks Skills Academy, which provides on-court skills training for athletes from high school to the pros.

Parks was kind enough to speak with Lakers Nation lifestyle report Hannah Kulik, and he provided insight into what it took for Kuzma to become the player who is currently leading the Lakers in scoring with an average of 16.5 points per game on 49.8 percent shooting from the floor and 37.4 percent from 3-point range.

LN: How long have you and Kyle been working together and how did you meet?

CP: I started working with him his redshirt freshman year at the University of Utah. He actually reached out to me and asked if I could start working with him. He had heard about some of the guys I had worked with in the past like Kawhi Leonard and Tony Snell. He was interested and it kind of took off from there.

LN: What was your main goal in creating a workout routine for Kyle?

CP: We are more on the court. I work with him as far as skill development. I don’t really do weight lifting, that’s more of the team. When he was in college he had strength coaches. We work at on-the-court stuff in building his skill level to help him continue to add to what he does well and concentrate on things he is not as strong at. To continue to help his skills progress.

LN: What were some of the things you were focusing on this summer leading up the season?

CP: Really just continuing to help him progress as a ball handler. Obviously his shooting – we did a lot of repetition shooting. And his post game. His all-around game, what people see from him right now. He’s an all-around player, someone who can do a little bit of everything. He’s a jack of all trades. I think that is what people are seeing from him right now as he continues to get better and better.

LN: Do you advise him on nutrition and if so what is the emphasis?

CP: I don’t advise him on that stuff but he has a chef and everything. He’s really disciplined when it comes to eating well and taking care of his body, because he understands the importance of that when it comes to longevity.

LN: What was the one thing that surprised you about Kyle when you first started working together?

CP: I wouldn’t say it really surprised me but I was impressed with his drive and his commitment to reach his goal, which was playing in the NBA. Now that he’s here, the thing that I continue to be impressed by is his relentlessness to want to get better. He is committed to the process of improving as a player every day. His work ethic continues to shine and I think that is one of the things that separates him from a lot of the guys coming into the league. He approaches the game like someone who is a vet, not a rookie.

LN: What is the number one thing Kyle is trying to improve on at the moment?

CP: I think just continuing to pick his spots on the floor. When to attack, when to facilitate, when to score. Normal things that young players go through. Overall just being consistent, that’s mainly the thing, being able to do it over and over again. He wants to be a great player in this league, that’s something he wants, and to be a great player in this league you have to be able to do it 82 nights, not just sometimes. Not every three games or four games, you have to bring it every night at a high level and I think that’s the biggest thing for him.

LN: Does Kyle listen to music when he trains and if so, who are his favorite artists?

CP: I know he likes Mozi and Lil Uzi. Those are two that I can tell you. John Connor, who is someone from Flint who he is close with. He listens to that a lot as well.

LN: When Kyle isn’t playing what are some of his favorite things to do?

CP: He is low key, chill, and down to earth. He’s just a regular dude. He’s a family guy. He is close to his family. He has a lot of friends that he grew up with. He’s not Hollywood. That’s another thing that I really like. He’s down to earth. He likes to be around kids.

He likes doing stuff in the community with the youth. That’s really important to him because he realizes that he was once in their shoes. He doesn’t take that for granted now that he has this opportunity. He wants to be someone to inspire the youth, give kids hope and to put a smile on their face. For me, seeing him stay true to those things is pretty cool.

LN: What would fans be surprised to learn about Kyle, something that they may not know?

CP: He thinks he’s an analyst for every sport. College football, the NFL. Not so much baseball, though. He’s already preparing for his next job, when sports is over. I can see him on ESPN. He really loves sports. He knows all the best high school players. He follows all the college players. He just really loves hoops. It’s pretty cool, actually. He’s like a basketball junkie.

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