Kyle Kuzma came into the league being known by many as “the other guy the Lakers drafted,” and has quickly made a name for himself in the NBA.
With all of the hype going to Lonzo Ball this season, Kyle has flown under the radar and has already proved that he may be the better rookie of the two.
At 25-years-old, Kuzma one of the best rookie scorers averaging the most points per game for any Laker right now with 17.4. His overall performance has even put him in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award (if he can beat out Ben Simmons).
Kyle Kuzma just became the 2nd rookie in the last 30 years to drop 30 on Christmas. pic.twitter.com/Jgj4Sxe2iQ
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 26, 2017
Working hard for what he wants to accomplish and staying focused on his goals is in this man’s DNA. Born to a single mother, Karri Kuzma raised Kyle and his two siblings in Flint, Michigan which wasn’t the best of times for the family.
In an interview with CBS, Kuzma described Flint as “a very violent place, with a lot of social pressure for children to get involved in the streets.”
In fact Kyle went on to talk about how throughout his childhood he witnessed some of his close friends begin to get involved in the streets.
His home life throughout it all, Kuzma knew that basketball was his way out, he knew his skills could get him out of this volatile environment.
Kyle started to really excel in basketball at a young age after his mother bought him a Fisher Price rim to keep him out of the streets. In his hometown, he quickly became a regular at the YMCA playing and dominating people much older than him on the court.
He took his skills from the Y to his local high school varsity team. At Bentley High School he was a force to be reckoned with, averaging about 18 points, 14 rebounds and 3 blocks a game. Even with such a colorful stat sheet, Kuzma wasn’t getting the big time D1 looks he deserved.
This was due to the fact that he was playing at such a small school that wasn’t well known on the recruiting circuit. He didn’t receive offers so Kuzma and his mother decided it would be best for him to take his talents to a bigger name school, preferably a prep school.
So the summer going into his senior year of high school, Kuzma trained everyday and sent videos of his workouts to prep schools to find a new home to evolve his game.
Luckily, Vincent Sparacio, head coach of The High Rise Academy in Philadelphia took a liking to Kuzma. He found him to be a great raw talent and told Bleacher Report,
“He wasn’t a great defender, a great shooter or a great ball-handler… But you could just tell he had that special feel that’s hard to teach.”
Understandably at first, Kuzma struggled with the new level of competition. But as the season went on, he began to lift more in the gym and practice on weekends with his coach in between AAU games. His coach continued,
“During AAU weekends, Kuzma stayed on campus, alternating between lifting weights and playing pickup basketball from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.”
This extra work sparked a complete 180 in Kyle’s season finishing with an average of 22 points and 7 rebounds.
This strong performance brought numerous offers from some serious Division 1 programs, including: University of Connecticut, Iowa State University, University of Tennessee and many others.
Ultimately, Kuzma decided to commit to the University of Utah.
During the Ute’s 2014 campaign (Kuzma’s freshman year), he averaged 8.1, 10.8 points and 5.7 rebounds per game.
After three years, Kuzma was averaging 16.4 points and 9.3 rebounds per game, while getting his sociology degree. Kuzma then decided it was time to take his game to the big leagues, and declared for the draft.
Contrary to where most draft experts expected, Kyle Kuzma was drafted as the 27th pick in the first round of the draft by the Brooklyn Nets. He was then traded to the Los Angeles Lakers for D’Angelo Russell.
The Lakers have simply been Kuzma’s launching pad.
Whether it be preseason or actual NBA games, Kuzma has completely dominated. Kuzma has finally set out what he planned to do since he was just a kid. Guess you can say he’s always been destined for NBA stardom.
According to an article done by Bleacher Report, this is just the beginning.
“‘He’s still working out like he hasn’t gotten drafted,’ Sparacio says. ‘With the NBA money, guys take a break, and he hasn’t taken a break since he got drafted. It’s probably not going to stop.’”
If this is just the beginning, teams in the NBA should be nervous. In his short career, he’s turned the heads of Lakers greats like Magic Johnson and even Kobe Bryant.
He’s held his own against some of the best teams in the league right now, and isn’t slowing down.
The Kyle Kuzma story is extremely inspiring, and shouldn’t going unnoticed. And who else is going to roast Lonzo Ball like thison the team?
Going from growing up in a city where it’s still too dangerous to open your mouth in the shower, to NBA stardom is the perfect example that if you put your mind to something and stick to a plan. Anything is possible and Kyle Kuzma proved that.
At the end of the day, what inspires him is his own family, and a certain Laker legend who he looked up to his entire childhood. There’s no doubt that he’s making Kobe proud this season. Keep grinding Kuz!
— kuz (@kylekuzma) December 18, 2017