Kyle Kuzma has received quite a bit of positive attention as of late. Is the Lakers forward deserving of this praise, or does this recognition simply come along with being a member of the Los Angeles Lakers?
To an outside eye, Kuzma is the third star on a Lakers roster that includes LeBron James and Anthony Davis — two of the biggest names in the NBA. Though he’s often viewed in this light, the former 27th overall pick has proven to be a solid asset for his team in a relatively short period of time.
“Kuz,” as he’s come to be known, has improved his game in each of his first two seasons in the league, though his three-point percentage took a bit of a hit last season. He made 70 appearances with the Lakers (68 starts), racking up averages of 18.7 points on 45.6 percent shooting from the field (30.3 percent from beyond the arc), 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists in 33.1 minutes per outing.
Kuzma made major headlines earlier this week, when it was announced that he had signed a five-year footwear and apparel endorsement deal with Puma. According to ESPN, the deal is expected to pay Kuzma more than $20 million over the life of the contract, with additional incentives that could increase the total value.
“The addition of Kyle to our expanding hoops roster is a huge step for our brand,” said Adam Petrick, Puma global director of brand and marketing.
Kuzma is one of the last remaining vestiges of the young players that the Lakers had over the past few seasons, as the team sent Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart (plus three first-round draft picks) to the New Orleans Pelicans for Anthony Davis. There were said to be several teams interested in Kuzma’s services this offseason, but the Lakers like his fit behind James and Davis. As a result, Los Angeles fought hard to keep him on the books.
As part of his introductory press conference, Davis heaped praise on Kuzma:
“Kuz is an unbelievable player,” Davis said via silverscreenandroll.com. “A young player who is steadily growing, always working on his craft. Anytime I’ve played against him, it was always great battles. He can shoot it, he can stretch the floor, he can put it down. He can finish, he’s got some post moves. So I’m very excited about playing alongside him.”
In the end, it seems the hype that has grown around Kyle Kuzma is indeed warranted, as he continues to prove his worth and potential. Now entering his third year of NBA service, he’ll be looking to help the Lakers in any way he can.