Kyle Kuzma was arguably the steal of the draft last season as he enjoyed a terrific rookie season for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The 23-year-old was selected with the 27th pick last year and was a revelation.
He was the joint leading scorer for the Lakers as he averaged 16.1 points and 6.3 rebounds per game.
With all the excitement and buzz surrounding the number two overall pick Lonzo Ball, it was Kuzma who stole the limelight.
The youngster was not fazed by the big stage and looked assured every time he stepped out onto the floor.
Spending three years in college seems to have helped him as he looks like a seasoned pro already.
Making that leap
The power forward will only get better and he's been putting the work in over the summer to reach new levels.
In an effort to improve his game further, Kuzma sought the help of Lakers legend Kobe Bryant.
Although the Black Mamba isn't involved with the franchise in any official capacity, he has always stated that he's available to mentor any young player on the team.
Kuz took him up on his offer and recently worked out with him.
Bryant was hugely impressed by what he saw from the Utah product and is predicting great things from him next season.
“He looks great, man. He’s got good rhythm," Bryant said on the Rich Eisen Show.
"He has the ability to disassociate movements, which gives him a fluidity when he plays.
"He can shoot the ball, he’s worked on his midrange game a lot, post-up game looks strong. I’m looking forward to him having a good year.”
Kuzma has made no secret of his admiration for Kobe and the two have maintained a close relationship since he reached out to him during his debut campaign.
The arrival of LeBron James will increase the expectations in L.A. and the team's young players will have to make big strides to help them achieve their minimum goal of reaching the playoffs.
But the Michigan native is confident that they can handle the pressure and raise their performance levels alongside the King.
“I don’t know why people kind of just rule us out because we are young,” said Kuzma, per ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk.
“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.”
If Kuzma is able to build on an NBA All-Rookie First Team selection, the purple and gold will give themselves a good chance of ending their five-year postseason drought.
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