Kyle Kuzma says “It’s super fun playing the right way” with Team USA

Kyle Kuzma
August 13, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; USA forward Kyle Kuzma (20) during practice at UCLA Health Training Center. Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

It has been a busy summer for Kyle Kuzma. The Los Angeles Lakers forward has seen his role on the team shift as the roster has been built, with high expectations from himself and the organization that he will step up into that third-star role behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

Before he and his Lakers teammates convene for training camp and ironing out those roles, however, the third-year veteran has been focused on international duties as one of several players invited to the Team USA basketball training camp ahead of the 2019 FIBA World Cup in China. Kuzma has not officially been selected for the final roster, yet, but he has a decent chance of representing his country in the world cup with numerous other players opting to forego the opportunity to get prepared for the NBA season.

Kuzma, though, has continued to be very optimistic about the opportunity that being around Team USA has given him and what it can do for his career. In fact, he recently spoke about how his role with Team USA may give him a preview of his role with the Lakers (via Dan Woike of the LA Times):

“We’ve got a deep team. When you play with an all-star team like this, with stars, everybody has to have a certain type of role. And that’s been my role,” he said. “…It’s actually fun — super fun — playing the right way.”

That sounds familiar to what he will have to do with the Lakers.

Kuzma will not get many opportunities to be a volume shooter on the Lakers this year, something he has been accustomed to over his first two years in the NBA. But with James and Davis taking the bulk of the shots and the attention of the opponent, Kuzma will have to rely on finding his spots as a spot-up shooter and cutter in order to put points on the board. Additionally, as Kuzma himself has noted, he will be tasked with some playmaking duties on bench lineups and will have to improve his currently subpar defense.

There are a lot of valid questions about whether or not Kuzma can be a major positive contributor on this Lakers team. But the experiences he’s had this summer can only help that development as the season approaches. Hopefully, it’s enough to vault him into a role that will benefit him and the team around him.

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