With young teams, one of the hardest parts of a rebuilding phase is finding leadership while developing players. The Los Angeles Lakers have been hit with their fair share of adversity, dealing with injuries, losses, and outside noise.
Following an ESPN report that quoted Lonzo Ball’s father LaVar, saying the Lakers had quit on head coach Luke Walton, rookie Kyle Kuzma emerged as the voice of reason. "I don't think that's the case," Kuzma told reporters at Lakers practice. "When you lose games, at the end of the day Luke isn't the one going out and shooting 2-for-15, turning the ball over, having turnovers or missing free throws. That's us. Can't blame the coaching staff for everything.”
Kuzma added, “"Luke is my guy. I love playing for him. I'm sure most of us love playing for him too. ... We stand by Luke.”
Kuzma has already been given the November Rookie of the Month Award for his on-court accomplishments, but his ability to navigate off-the-court drama is a big plus. Playing in Los Angeles, one of the world’s largest markets, is no easy task.
Despite the normal ups and downs for a rookie, Kuzma has adapted surprisingly well. He’s averaging 17.1 PPG and 6.3 RPG, and he’s turned into a candidate for the Rookie of the Year Award. That is quite a good return for the No. 27 pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.
His leadership qualities–plus, his ability to handle the media–will only help his cause going forward as one of the Lakers’ cornerstone pieces.
Kuzma will look to help the Lakers build a winning streak, as the team tries to follow up a dominant home win over the Atlanta Hawks when they face the Sacramento Kings Tuesday night at Staples Center. For more Lakers news and tickets to select home games, keep it here on AXS.com.