Los Angeles Lakers power forward Kyle Kuzma, the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, is one of the rising superstars in the league. He immediately made an impact in his rookie season, averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds on 45 percent shooting from the field and 36.6 percent from beyond the arc. At the recent NBA Awards, Kuzma finished fourth in the 2017-18 NBA Rookie of the Year Award voting.
There is no doubt that Kyle Kuzma is taking the right path to stardom. His impressive performance last season made him considered as one of the two steals of the 2017 NBA Draft, together with Utah Jazz shooting guard Donovan Mitchell. Despite the achievements and unending praise he receives, Kuzma keeps his feet on the ground.
During the 2017-18 NBA season, the 22-year-old power forward had dinner with Lakers legend Kobe Bryant. Kuzma didn’t waste the opportunity to ask questions to Bryant about how he became one of the greatest basketball players in the world. Kuzma admitted that he also received some words of wisdom from Bryant on how to deal with the constant praise and stay level-headed, per Kevin Ding of NBA.com.
“When he was a young player,” Kuzma said, “everybody would in a sense toot his horn or kiss his a**. His way of not getting overhyped confidence-wise, even though he was still very confident, was to say, ‘OK, (forget) this guy. He might tell me something great, but he don’t mean that.’ That really helped me stay level-headed. That was one thing that continues with me to this day, and I’ll probably never forget that.”
Kyle Kuzma must be aware how overconfidence can affect his game and reputation in the league. Receiving those words from someone like Kobe Bryant is definitely a big deal for Kuzma, who is only entering his second year in the NBA. With his impressive work ethic, it is not a surprise why the Lakers view Kuzma as part of their long-term plan.
The arrival of LeBron James in Los Angeles made most people believe that the Lakers will include Kuzma in a trade package to acquire another superstar, specifically Kawhi Leonard of the San Antonio Spurs. However, recent reports from Stephen A. Smith of ESPN, as reported by Lakers Nation, revealed that the Lakers have made Kuzma “off-limits” in any trade negotiation.
As of now, it is safe to say that Kuzma will be playing in his second season wearing the Purple and Gold. While continuously receiving advice from Kobe Bryant, Kuzma will have the opportunity to play alongside the best player on the planet, where he could possibly make his first appearance in the Western Conference Playoffs next season.