The expectations can often get out of hand for a rookie entering his first NBA season, as the glamour of the NBA also comes with an adjustment period. Just as everyone else, Los Angeles Lakers rookies Lonzo Ball, Josh Hart, Kyle Kuzma and Thomas Bryant also need to get accustomed to all that an NBA season demands, including the constant player development and rigors of travel.
While the Lakers are about to enter training camp, the rookies have their sight set on the beginning of the regular season. For players such as Kuzma, their rookie season is about jelling with his team and fitting into a contributing role. While rookies want to make as big an impact as possible, it has to come within the confines of the team.
Kuzma appeared on the Popcorn Machine Podcast with Joey Ramirez, discussing his expectations going into his rookie campaign. While Kuzma did make his presence felt offensively, the 2017 Las Vegas Summer League Finals MVP is focused on improving his defensive abilities:
“Defensively. I think in this league, if you wanna have a birds-eye view of my career I wanna be known as a two-way player, a great two-way player. Just defensively, rookie year is gonna be hard enough playing all the games and getting used to guarding the heavy names every night. So for me, it’s just defense. Offense is gonna come because I can score the ball.”
While there are examples of NBA players that only contribute offensively, those players are as rare as they come. No team wants a defensive liability on the court during crucial moments of the game, which is why coaching staffs repeatedly instill defensive assignments onto their roster.
Very few can question Kuzma’s offensive arsenal entering the 2017-18 season, as he proved to be a capable scorer that can affect the game from inside or beyond the arc. Kuzma enters a log-jammed forward position, competing against the likes of Brandon Ingram, Julius Randle, Luol Deng and Larry Nance Jr.
However, a keen attention to defense can make an immediate positive impact. Kuzma will have a chance to demonstrate his defense during the upcoming preseason slate of games, as players continue to compete for playing time.
While Kuzma received quite the praise during the annual NBA rookie surveys, he understands that he has to impress the coaching staff in more ways than one.