Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has stayed busy during the offseason, in part due to an invite to the Team USA Basketball training camp, with a chance at making the final roster that will travel to China for the 2019 FIBA World Cup.
While most stars have withdrawn from consideration for Team USA to focus on the upcoming season, Kuzma has spoken highly about the opportunity to represent his country and what the experience could mean for his development. It turns out Kuzma is not the only one to see that progress as his Team USA teammate Donovan Mitchell spoke about Kuzma’s development on the end of the floor he’s less well known for:
Donovan Mitchell on Kuz’s defense: "He’s a defensive player now. He can play defense. People kind of knock (his defense), I don’t know why … But he’s a guy who’s taking the charge, communicating … I think that shows a lot to his maturity and a lot about his work ethic."
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) August 15, 2019
Mitchell and Kuzma are close friends so this should obviously be taken with a grain of salt before we see Kuzma in action. Still, it’s encouraging to hear one of the most promising young players in the game praise the third-year pro’s work on that end of the floor.
Kuzma has managed to be a positive contributor in the NBA for two straight years despite, for the most part, being a defensive liability. If the progress he is seemingly showing on that end of the floor is legitimate and sticks through the NBA season, it means a lot for his ceiling moving forward and for the Lakers’ chances to win a championship in the near-term future.