As Kyle Kuzma enters the next chapter in his career, now with the Wizards after spending the first four seasons of his career with the Lakers, he would like to take the next step as a leader. In Los Angeles, he was the young guy on the rise. Now, he's 26 and brings to Washington a championship ring and playoff experience.
Kuzma also had the opportunity to learn from some of the best players in the history of basketball. He played alongside LeBron James and also got to know Kobe Bryant before his tragic passing.
Kuzma took lessons from each of them, as well as others, that he hopes to apply moving forward now as one of the veterans in D.C.
"Professionalism. I think that’s the No. 1 thing. I think that’s very, very important in trying to build a winning culture, a culture that can contend for championships," Kuzma said.
"You need professionalism, you need humility, you need to be able to understand people. [You need] to understand how certain people act in different situations. Also, you have to lead by example. You can’t just be a talker and just do that. In order for guys to respect you and respect your knowledge of the game, you have to do it at a high level and show it every day."
Kuzma later expanded on that a bit. He reiterated how leaders have to back up their words with action and he went into detail on how James and others went about doing so.
"Being one of the first few people in the gym every single day. Hammering film, holding myself accountable along with others. Just doing things. We had a saying in L.A. ‘we don’t have one leader, all 17 guys on our roster, everyone’s a leader.’ If you present yourself like that and the whole team has that type of mentality, the camaraderie is going to be there and the accountability is going to be there and the ability to be cohesive will be there, too," Kuzma said.
The Wizards' roster has some clear leaders in Bradley Beal and Spencer Dinwiddie, but also some room for others to emerge. It's young with nobody over the age of 28. Kuzma at 26 and with his track record, certainly has an opportunity to find his niche in that regard.