The only Lakers representative at USA Basketball camp ahead of the FIBA World Cup, Kyle Kuzma is looking to take advantage of his time with the national team and soak up as much information as he can. Surrounded by a combination of veteran All-Stars and young up and comers, Kuzma gets to take part in the competitive camp sessions that have helped forge some of the NBA’s best talents over the years.
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Kyle Kuzma Excited to Learn From USA Basketball Coach Gregg Popovich
The 2019 FIBA World Cup team is headed by legendary coach Gregg Popovich, the unwavering rock of the San Antonio Spurs dynasty. A defensive-minded wizard, the time – no matter how brief – Kuzma gets to spend playing for Popovich should leave him with some incredibly useful knowledge. Especially on the defensive end.
Known for his incredibly high work ethic and coachability, Kuzma himself seems to be relishing the opportunity to learn from one of the game’s masters.
“He’s my favorite coach of all time,” Kuzma said via USA Basketball, “Growing up, I’m a hoops junkie, watching a lot of the Spurs teams and he’s won. He’s won at every level he’s been at. So, to be here and learn, to be around him, it’s really great.”
When pressed a bit more on the subject and asked what specifically he hoped to take away from his time under Popovich, Kuzma cited his experience – and the experience of other coaches on the staff.
“A little bit of everything,” Kuzma said when asked on what he hoped to learn from Pop, “He’s been around the game for years and years and years, so I want to be a sponge. Not just Pop, we have Jay Wright here, Steve Kerr, so many great coaches. To learn from everyone is going to help me out tremendously.”
While it isn’t a lock for Kuzma to make the World Cup squad, the experience of going through camp, learning from elite coaches, and competing against some of the best players in the world should give him tremendous confidence heading into a year with sky-high expectations.
Kyle Kuzma’s Laker Role Still Unclear
As we inch closer to the season, one question on just about every Laker fans’ mind is where exactly Kyle Kuzma will find the bulk of his minutes this season. Kuzma traditionally plays either the small or power forward – though on occasion can slide up and give minutes at center. However, the Lakers already have LeBron slotted in at small forward while Anthony Davis is expected to play power forward. While Davis can play center as well, he prefers to play the four and the Lakers signed DeMarcus Cousins – who is also expected to start – to man the center position.
Given the logjam at forward, it seems most likely that the Lakers intend to use Kuzma in a versatile sixth man type role where he can jump in and give minutes to spell James, Davis, and even on rare occasions Cousins. While building out the rotations to keep Kuzma involved and seeing his usual dose of 30+ minutes per night might be tricky, having too much frontcourt talent is not a bad problem to have if you’re the Lakers.