Los Angeles Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma recently discussed the difference playing in college at Utah and in the NBA with the Lakers.
The Los Angeles Lakers rookie garnering the most attention is Lonzo Ball, and rightfully so. The No. 2 overall pick out of UCLA has quite the following. Some of it is because of his father, LaVar Ball, saying outrageous things. LaVar has made sure everyone knows who Lonzo is.
However, Lonzo isn’t the only rookie making an impact for the Lakers. No. 30 overall pick Josh Hart has worked his way into the rotation after battling injuries in the Las Vegas Summer League and training camp.
The rookie that has really surprised is Kyle Kuzma. The Lakers selected Kuzma with the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft, a pick they acquired from the Brooklyn Nets.
Many people questioned the selection, as Kuzma was viewed as a fringe first-round prospect. Draft pundits didn’t believe Kuzma had the skill set to be a stretch-4 in the NBA, as his three-point shooting was inconsistent.
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Kuzma has quickly proved those doubters wrong. He shot the lights out of the gym in the Summer League and did the same throughout most of the preseason. Kuzma has continued to provide a scoring punch for the Lakers on their bench in the regular season as well.
It is still early, but Kuzma looks like a steal for the Lakers. He is providing energy and hustle off the bench and has scored the ball well, just as he did in college at Utah.
At Utah, Kuzma was a great scorer and rebounder. In his final season at Utah, Kuzma averaged 16.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game. He also added 2.4 assists and was a member of the 2016-17 All-Pac-12 First Team.
Recently, Kuzma discussed the differences between playing in college and the NBA with the Lakers. One of the differences is the number of games. The NBA plays an 82-game season, while college teams playing about 35 games a season.
It is one of the differences a rookie like Kuzma has to prepare themselves for, and one that he says he has prepped his body for. Kuzma discussed the difference with Bill Oram of the OC Register.
“College, you had two games a week and now three games in four nights and back-to-back and traveling,” Kuzma said, “definitely takes its wear and tear, but I make sure to take care of the body and get proper rest.”
Being prepared for the grind of an NBA season is arguably the biggest adjustment a college player has to make. There isn’t much a prospect can do to prep them for such a long season; just making sure to take care of your body as Kuzma says is the best way to go about it.
Kuzma has already positioned himself as an important part of the Lakers rotation. He will have to heed his own advice to remain a productive player throughout the season.
Thus far, through six games, Kuzma is averaging 13.7 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 0.7 steals per game, and shooting 50.7 percent from the field. The Lakers are hoping he can continue providing that kind of production throughout his rookie season.