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In the first portion of the season, the Los Angeles Lakers have been searching for a complement to LeBron James, someone to assist with the scoring load James shoulders wherever he goes.
Second-year power forward, Kyle Kuzma has been presented with this opportunity, has grabbed a hold of it and does not appear as if he will relent any time soon.
I spoke with Kuzma about how he prepared this summer to possibly fill his current role, and perhaps being that secondary star to James.
“Just work hard during the summer, try living in the gym,” Kuzma said. “Take care of my body. That’s helped me be consistent throughout the year.”
Consistency has defined Kuzma’s play this season. With Brandon Ingram sidelined with an injury, Kuzma has seized the opportunity for more minutes and cashed in by averaging 23.3 points so far in December.
As for playing alongside James, Kuzma lauded the superstar’s playmaking ability and is humbled to be playing with a man he grew up admiring.
“As far as playing with him, he’s one of the greatest to play the game, and to get to learn from him is cool — especially growing up being a fan of his,” Kuzma said. “He’s great at finding his teammates, so I just try to get open and make the shots count.”
One glaring statistic is the easy buckets that presumably result from James’ presence. Through Friday, Kuzma had compiled 29 dunks — matching his number for all of last season.
Fellow second-year player Lonzo Ball spoke highly of Kuzma, and attributed his strong sophomore season to his work ethic.
“He’s just always in the gym, always working,” Ball said. “Hard work pays off, his work ethic is second to none. He’s always trying to be the first one in the gym and last one out, and that got him where he’s heading.”
Where he is heading, it seems, is being a mainstay for the Lakers organization for many years to come.