Kyle Kuzma Reveals How Kawhi Leonard’s Career Is Inspiring Him in Role With Lakers

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma has had an up and down 2019-20 season.

The 24-year-old has seen his numbers decline across the board in this third NBA season, but he is not letting that get him discouraged.

Instead, Kuzma compared his career trajectory to that of Los Angeles Clippers star Kawhi Leonard.

“I just look at Kawhi Leonard, for example,” Kuzma noted during a conference call. “He was a [San Antonio] Spur for four or five years — whatever it was — waited his turn behind [Tim] Duncan, [Manu] Ginobli and [Tony] Parker, and then did his thing.”

Leonard was a role player for most of his first three seasons with the Spurs, but made a name for himself by winning NBA Finals MVP in 2014.

He was eventually handed the keys to the franchise before getting traded to the Toronto Raptors prior to the 2018-19 season. In his lone season in Toronto, he led the Raptors to an NBA title and won his second NBA Finals MVP award.

Now, Leonard is considered to be one of the best players in the NBA. He is a great player for Kuzma to strive to emulate.

Kuzma, who started 68 games last season, has seen his role reduced with the addition of forward Anthony Davis to the roster.

He has come off the bench in 47 of the 54 games he has appeared in this season. However, he believes that he has to focus on being the best in his role now to succeed in the future.

“I just take it with a progression mindset and mentality of trying to get better every day,” Kuzma said. “I focus on what I can control, and my time is coming.”

The Lakers will need as much production as they can get from Kuzma as they attempt to capture an NBA title this season.

Kuzma is currently averaging 12.5 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.3 assists per game for Los Angeles.

The 2019-20 season is set to resume on July 30 in Orlando, Fla.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.