Kevin Love Offers Valuable Advice to Kyle Kuzma on How to Be the ‘Third Guy’

Robert Marvi
4 Min Read

At 11-2, the Los Angeles Lakers have the best record in the NBA and are starting to look like legitimate championship contenders.

It’s a position Kevin Love was familiar with just a few years ago while playing with a certain Lakers superstar.

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Love praised LeBron James and the entire Lakers team.

“They’re meshing in a real good way, and Kyle Kuzma is figuring out his role now too,” Love said. “Once he gets up to speed and other guys get up to speed, they’re really going to be rolling and they’re already clicking as it is with LeBron and [Anthony Davis]. Dwight [Howard] has really played well too. They’re a fun team to watch. Any team with LeBron is going to be a fun team to watch, but he’s leading them and he has been super efficient. There are nights where he’s going to have 30, 15 and 15 and then there’s nights where he’s going to play at his own pace and not put up those numbers, but he’s just so efficient. It doesn’t look like he’s lost a step as he gets older in this league. He continues to get smarter and find ways to make everything work.”

The Santa Monica, Calif. native also talked about what Kyle Kuzma needs to continue to do to truly find his niche with this edition of the Purple and Gold.

“The key with being that third guy is taking advantage of the opportunity,” Love said. “When you’re the third guy, you know you’re going to sacrifice. When I got to Cleveland I joined two ball-dominant guys, so I had to find where I fit. I had to master my role on the team and know that I had to do other things that didn’t show up on the stat sheet.

“When you have a chance to win a championship, there’s going to be some sacrifice.”

Being that third guy is something Love knows all about, as that was exactly his role when the Cleveland Cavaliers went to the NBA Finals four straight years.

Historically, the third-best player on a championship team can sometimes be obscured or lost in the shuffle.

It’s something Love had to deal with. As James’ teammate from 2014 to 2018, the former UCLA standout averaged 17.1 points and 10.0 rebounds per game in the regular season.

But he got marginalized at times when playing in the championship series. During the 2016 NBA Finals, Love only put up 8.5 points per game and was even benched in Game 3.

Kyle Kuzma is averaging 14.0 points per game while playing 23.7 minutes in his nine games back from a stress reaction in his foot.

After struggling mightily in his first few games this season, Kuzma has found his stroke. He has shot 50.0 percent from the field and 46.9 percent from 3-point range, while averaging 18.0 points a game in his last five games.

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Robert is a native of Santa Monica, Calif., and a graduate of the University of California, Santa Barbara. He has been an avid NBA fan since he was a little kid in the mid '90s and fell in love with the Nick Van Exel-led Lakers teams. He truly cherishes the Kobe Bryant-era of Lakers basketball and the five world championships that came with it, and is looking forward to the team's next NBA title.