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Lakers coach Luke Walton says Kyle Kuzma has ‘work ethic’ to eventually be like Kobe Bryant

Kyle Kuzma and Luke Walton

The Los Angeles Lakers appear to have gotten the biggest steal of the 2017 NBA Draft with the team selecting forward Kyle Kuzma out of Utah with the 27th overall pick. Kuzma has far exceeded expectations halfway through his first season receiving praise from many including future Hall of Famer Kobe Bryant.

After practice on Thursday, head coach Luke Walton was asked about his rookie forward and whether he has the same approach to the game of basketball in comparison to Bryant’s relentless pursuit of greatness during his 20-year career with the Lakers.

“It’s probably too early to tell,” Walton said. “Kuz obviously has a lot of confidence and he works hard. Kobe Bryant was the hardest working player I’d ever seen. Committed his life to the craft. From 4 a.m. until the moment he went to sleep. Most nights waking up to set an ice bath or ice bag throughout the night was how he approached it.

“He’s young in his career, but he definitely has confidence and a good work ethic to start down that path.”

Recently, Kuzma sat down for an interview with Rolling Stone and said he believes that he shares the same mentality as the five-time NBA champion. A bold statement to say the least considering the career Kobe had and the infamous “Mamba Mentality” that paved the way for legendary Laker that had two jersey numbers recently retired by the team.

Although Kuzma has a long way to go before he can even be mentioned in the same breath as Bryant or whether he truly shares the same dedication and passion for the game, the 22-year-old has been impressive this season and may have a very bright future in this league.

As a rookie, Kuzma is currently the team’s leading scorer at 16.7 points per game which is ahead of Brandon Ingram (15.5) and Jordan Clarkson (14.4). The sky seems to be the limit for this promising young player from Michigan as he tries to become what the team is looking for in the post-Kobe era in Los Angeles.