Kyle Kuzma has been as much of an enigma in the NBA as a 27th overall pick can be in his third-year. That can probably be attributed to the team that ended up with Kuzma in the draft, as being a Los Angeles Laker adds plenty of added attention. Throw in his Instagram fits and his Puma deal, and you have the recipe for an extremely popular, young NBA player.
Although he’s grown increasingly popular, his basketball play has arguably declined with each month since he was a titular and exciting young rookie. On the 2019-20 season, he is currently averaging 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, and 1.3 assists per game with a 3P% of 29.7%. That three-point percentage is the most concerning, as he posted a respectable 36.6% in his rookie season of 2017-18.
Still, Kuzma is going to give it his all in Orlando to try and secure the 17th championship in Lakers history. He realizes how monumental this fall could be for him, saying this on a conference call with reporters today (h/t Harrison Faigen of Silver Screen & Roll).
Kyle Kuzma, asked by @KamBrothers what his first playoff appearance means to him:
"It means a lot, and that's why I'm taking it so serious… Not a lot of players have a chance to win rings, to have a chance in my third year… that's important."
— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) July 7, 2020
Kuzma is not kidding when he says that not a lot of players have chances to win rings. Certain superstars throughout NBA history have had chances but were never able to secure a ring, players including Charles Barkley, Karl Malone, and Carmelo Anthony.
The gravity of the moment is not unknown to Kuzma, who obviously realizes what a privilege it is to play alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and so many other smart and successful veterans. Kuzma will just need to lay low in these playoffs and make smart plays while also shooting decently from three. If he does that and throws in some decent defense, then fans will have no reason to blame Kuzma if the Lakers don’t end up winning the championship.