Despite the addition of LeBron James and Co. this offseason, few have the Los Angeles Lakers as legitimate threats in the Western Conference next season. Kyle Kuzma, on the other hand, is of a different opinion.
In an interview with ESPN’s Ohm Youngmisuk on Tuesday, the Lakers forward said that he has been working out with James this offseason and added that he thinks the team is being underestimated.
“We are both definitely excited about the roster and the pieces that we have,” said Kuzma. “And we think that a lot of people are underestimating us. It is definitely going to be fun playing with all these new guys.
“I don’t know why people kind of just rule us out because we are young,” the 23-year-old continued. “We are hungry. We are competitive. Anybody that watched us play last year, we were in a lot of games. Having one of the greatest players of all time is going to raise what we do, raise our level of focus and the team to a higher level. I don’t really see why [there is a need to be] so patient.”
Kuzma, who averaged 16.1 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 2.1 threes per game as a rookie last season, figures to be a core complement to James on the Lakers’ roster in 2018-19. That roster will also include an intriguing blend of other youngsters such as Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram as well as wily, playoff-tested veterans like Rajon Rondo and Lance Stephenson.
James himself also seems to believe that they can outperform expectations, so Kuzma’s confidence here is definitely far from just youthful exuberance.