Kyle Kuzma: ‘I Want to Be a Mount Rushmore Player’

Kyle Kuzma is just getting started.

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The No. 27 pick in the 2017 draft showed out in his rookie year, averaging 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game. All summer long, Kuz has been in the gym grinding. In an interview with Mike Trudell of NBA.com, he discussed the progress he’s made during the last several months:

MT: What’s been the focus of your offseason regimen?
Kuzma: We’ve worked on a lot of perimeter skills and playing at the three. Last year I played the three and the four, and I’ll probably play (both) this year, but just to develop my game as a perimeter guy. Reading passes. My handling. Just working out as a guard really helps your overall game.

MT: How much better are you now, in early September, than you were in April?
Kuzma: A lot. A lot better. Totally different. I’m stronger. I got more handle. I watch more film now to really understand things on the floor that I didn’t see last year.

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Asked how difficult it is to balance being both an individual and team player, Kuz said the Lakers always come first, but referenced his goal of ending up on the Mount Rushmore of NBA greats:

MT: If you’re a college player who wants to get to the NBA, it’s a little naïve, to me, to think that you can just be a team guy. You told me last year that you have to be thinking about improving your specific skill set to fit at the next level, if that’s your goal. How does that balance shift when you get to the NBA? In other words, can you be both a great team player and want to be great individually? Sometimes that lines up perfectly for guys, but what if it doesn’t? 

Kuzma: For sure. Of course, the goal should be the team, because if the team wins everyone wins and looks good. But you don’t want to be playing (10 minutes a game). I want to be a great player. I want to be a Mount Rushmore player. You can’t do that just by totally buying in; you have to buy in, but it’s just a grey area. You have to still do your thing. You can’t just stand in the corner.

Can’t wait to watch Kuz ball out in season two.

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