Lakers’ Kuzma says ‘a lot of people are underestimating us’

Kyle Kuzma believes people are sleeping on the Lakers.

Many have questioned LeBron James’ move to the Los Angeles Lakers after the superstar signed a four-year, $153.5 million free-agent deal with the team.

The roster appears nowhere near ready to compete for a championship in the rugged Western Conference and the Lakers might even struggle to make the playoffs, considering James is surrounded by a lot of young players and guys who don’t really fit well next to him.

Lakers second-year forward Kyle Kuzma, however, believes everyone is sleeping on the squad.

“We are both definitely excited about the roster and the pieces that we have,” Kuzma told ESPN on Tuesday, after visiting with 20 kids from the Safe Places program at his hometown Flint YMCA as part of the My Y Story content series. “And we think that a lot of people are underestimating us. It is definitely going to be fun playing with all these new guys.

“A lot of people say we got a lot of different people, a lot of new people. But change can be a good thing. It is not necessarily always a bad thing. There’s a lot of teams in the NBA that need to work on their chemistry; we are just one of them.”

After James signed with the Lakers, LA added Rajon RondoLance Stephenson, JaVale McGee and Michael Beasley. Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart all have bright futures in the NBA, which is why Kuzma disagrees with the notion that James might have to be patient and wait a year to add another star for the Lakers to contend in the West.

“I don’t know why people kind of just rule us out because we are young,” Kuzma said. “We are hungry. We are competitive. Anybody that watched us play last year, we were in a lot of games. Having one of the greatest players of all-time is going to raise what we do, raise our level of focus and the team to a higher level. I don’t really see why [there is a need to be] so patient.”

James and Kuzma have already been working out together. Kuzma averaged 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds and 1.8 assists during his rookie season. The 23-year-old shot 45.0 percent from the field, 36.6 percent from three and was named to the All-Rookie first team.