For good reason. He overcame so much to an NBA rotation player.
But, sometimes, his confidence makes him sound silly.
he still sees himself as a player capable of averaging 25 points per game and reaching All-Star heights.
“I definitely can. I definitely believe that, too. I don’t really care what nobody thinks or says. I know myself, and I know my ability. It’s hard to be consistent in an inconsistent role. I’m excited for a more consistent space next year,” Kuzma said.
“My biggest thing is I just want to play within a consistent role,” Kuzma said. “If I have that ability, I’ll be able to showcase what I can really do. There were parts of this year—and even anywhere else in my career—when I’m in a consistent space, I’m out there handling the ball, making teammates better, scoring, shooting, defending, rebounding. I think if I’m in that space, I’ll be good.”
Kuzma was asked about scoring 25 points per game and becoming an All-Star. When presented with that question, few NBA players – especially young ones – would answer differently. Confidence is nearly essential to reaching the league.
A player bringing up those targets on his own would be a far stronger (and, usually, more naïve statement). That’s not Kuzma here.
Still, there’s significance in his answers. Kuzma sounds dissatisfied with his role.
But there’s a catch-22 for players like him: They’d be better with more touches, but they haven’t earned more touches. Los Angeles won’t take the ball from LeBron James and Anthony Davis just to empower Kuzma. While that’d probably help Kuzma individually, it’d hurt the team. Players like Kuzma must learn how to maximize their play within inconsistent roles. They’re not good enough to build around.
To Kuzma’s credit, he has done that. His defense has improved significantly.
Another potential solution: Kuzma could join a lesser team that would make him more of a focal point. About to begin a three-year, $39 million contract extension, he has little control over that. But he looks like one of the Lakers’ main trade chips, especially because of his matching salary. So, he might wind up in that situation.
I wonder whether Kuzma would still “rather be talked about bad in L.A. than play in Orlando and not get talked about.”