The Los Angeles Lakers and San Antonio Spurs faced off on Sunday, in the Lakers’ second game of the weekend in Texas after they beat the Dallas Mavericks in a classic on Friday.
Gregg Popovich has been the head coach of the Spurs for over two decades now, but has had the chance to coach some Lakers as a part of the coaching staff for Team USA throughout the years. This year, Popovich took over head coaching duties for the squad as another Laker was set to come through in the red, white, and blue.
That Laker was Kyle Kuzma, who sadly had to leave the team before the real FIBA tournament started as he suffered a left foot/ankle injury (same injury that he is just now returning from).
Gregg Popovich was asked about Kuzma and what he saw from him before and during their time together on Team USA, providing some interesting comments. Whether these comments are compliments remains to be seen.
Popovich on coaching @kylekuzma for 🇺🇸: “I loved it.” Compared him to a young Manu watching from afar, w/no idea what was happening on the court, just a lot of energy. Then, “When he got hurt, it was a huge blow for our team.” Said Kuz come a long way from a mental standpoint.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 3, 2019
Popovich said he "became a big fan" of Kyle Kuzma during USA Basketball this summer. Before coaching him, he said he saw "no rhyme or reason" to how he played and he reminded him of a "young Manu." By the time Kuz got injured, though, "he had come a long way."
— Bill Oram (@billoram) November 3, 2019
On one hand, Popovich seems to be giving Kuzma some compliments here, saying he “became a big fan” of his during their time together. Hell, he even compares Kuzma to Manu Ginóbili, who may be a Hall of Famer someday.
The thing is, the comparison that Popovich made was that Kuzma seems to be like a “young” Manu, the way he plays with a lot of energy and “no rhyme or reason”.
Either way, Kuzma is still, in fact, young. He has plenty of time to figure out how to play the game with poise and control, the same way that Manu did under Popovich. Now, will Kuzma ever get to the level of talent that Manu ended up at in the prime of his career? That’s doubtful, but it’s still nice to hear that Popovich sees the young, inexperienced version of a multi-NBA champion in Kuzma.