Much of the talk around the Lakers this season has been which star, if any, will be paired alongside LeBron James. Entering free agency this past summer, most people assumed it would be Paul George. Kawhi Leonard requested a trade to the Lakers with no avail. Anthony Davis has been linked to the Lakers ever since his switch to Klutch Sports. The options have definitely been there, regardless of the long odds. Is it possible that the Lakers’ second star is already there? Second-year star Kyle Kuzma is making a case for it.
Kyle Kuzma, the 27th pick in last year’s draft, emerged as the biggest surprise among the rookie class. The kid from Flint, Michigan that many had never heard of averaged a respectable 16 points per game, second only among rookies to Utah’s Donovan Mitchell. He became one of LA’s most dangerous scoring threats in a season that was deemed an audition for LeBron James. Along with the talent of Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball, Kuzma and the Lakers’ young core impressed The King enough to join the battle that is the stacked Western Conference.
Everybody knows that in order to be a true star for the Lakers, it takes more than just skill and statistics. It also takes swag mixed with a little bit of ego. The city of Los Angeles was accustomed to this mentality for two decades due to the likes of Kobe Bryant. It is not a coincidence that one of Kyle Kuzma’s biggest mentor and a fan is the Mamba himself. Of the Lakers’ young core, Kuzma (or Kuzmania, as many call him) showcases that “it” factor to be great. He does not appear to lack confidence, he has never met a shot he didn’t like, and he even wears fur coats. Kyle Kuzma is as LA as it can get.
Now, nobody truly expects Kyle Kuzma to be in the same conversation as guys like Paul George, Kawhi Leonard or Anthony Davis. If and when the Lakers acquire that star to play Robin next to Batman, Kuzma could be a lethal third option. The ability to have a cold-blooded scorer that can play within the offense is a rarity and could give the Lakers an advantage over most teams. However, if I have learned anything about Kyle Kuzma, it is that his work ethic is not to be questioned. He has proven doubters wrong the last two years, so might he prove us wrong again and become one of the greats in the game? Los Angeles can’t wait to find out.