Usually, there aren’t many positive storylines to come from a 35-47 season, but this was absolutely not the case for the Los Angeles Lakers. One of the bright spots was the emergence of Kyle Kuzma, who was selected No. 27 in the 2017 NBA Draft.
Not much was expected of Kuzma, but after an electric Summer League, including a 30-point performance to clinch a championship for the Lakers, he quickly proved to be better than one might expect out of such a late first-round pick.
After his rookie year, it was clear Kuzma was a force to be reckoned with. He averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds en route to being named to the NBA-All Rookie First Team.
Now, after the Lakers revamped their roster with the signings of LeBron James and a slew of veterans, Kuzma is unsatisfied with last year’s results.
In fact, he’s spent the offseasn working toward improving his conditioning in order to fully blossom into a great two-way player, via Mike Trudell:
“For me the summer has been all about my body. Just taking care of it, and really trying to be in the weight room pushing myself, so the work I’m doing now is not going to make me tired in April. Just trying to be in elite shape, getting on the track and running. The biggest thing about being a two-way player is being in shape, because like you said, it is hard to play both offense and defense (well). When guys get tired and you can keep going to that next level of cardio, that’s what I’m doing this summer.”
Being in top physical shape will be important for the entire Lakers roster as they anticipate playing at a fast pace. They did so last season and should only build on that with more ball handlers being added to the roster.
But for Kuzma, the largest criticism of him was his inconsistencies on the defensive end. It’s clear that he recognized that and wants to show that he can be as effective on defense as he already is and hopes to be on offense.
If Kuzma can improve his defense to match his offensive level, there’s no doubt that he will be an important piece for the Lakers. Kuzma’s work ethic has been routinely complimented early in his career, so there’s little doubt that he can actually make it happen.