"It's like 3 a.m., I'm asleep, he ran into my room and damn near threw water on me," Kuzma said. "For those guys, especially speaking of Zo, BI, they are best when they have the ball in their hands. It is kind of tough when we get vets that are ball-dominant guys. So it kind of stunted their growth."
Now, Kuzma sees Ingram and Ball — the No. 2 overall picks in 2016 and 2017, respectively, by the Lakers — thriving and being able to play the way they need to in New Orleans alongside Zion Williamson.
"They were excited," Kuzma said of Ingram, Ball and Hart after the trade. "It's a little bit less pressure. They didn't [actually] say that. But obviously being in L.A., there's more pressure. They can be themselves now. They can go to New Orleans and develop into the superstars they were supposed to be."
"I've never been a ball-dominant guy," Kuzma said. "I've always played off the ball. It is going to be a little bit easier, going to have a lot of open shots. It is my job to trust my summer workouts and what I've done. Just breathe, focus and knock those shots down, because I'm going to be open."
"I don't feel no pressure, but I believe that I am capable of being that superstar," Kuzma told ESPN. "I put a lot of work in. My progress through my journey shows that I can be there. I developed every single year, dating back to college, and I don't see that development stunting at all."
Kuzma added, "Last year I didn't shoot the ball well, and I still averaged almost 20 points per game. If I can shoot the ball well and keep developing the facets of my game defensively, I don't see why I can't be that third star."From making it out of the tough environment of Flint, Michigan, to becoming a little-known, late-first-round draft pick out of Utah, Kuzma noted how he has continually beaten the odds and exceeded expectations.
Currently on the USA Basketball training camp roster, the 24-year-old hopes to launch himself into the biggest season of his basketball career by making the U.S. team and playing in next month's FIBA World Cup. It's a big summer for the third-year forward, who averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. Kuzma, who saw his 3-point shooting dip from 36.6% as a rookie to 30.3% last season, believes he fits in seamlessly alongside James and Davis.