Kyle Kuzma: 'I Am Capable' of Being Lakers' 3rd Star with LeBron, Anthony Davis

Paul KasabianSenior ContributorAugust 8, 2019

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 29: Kyle Kuzma #0 of the Los Angeles Lakers dunks the ball against the Charlotte Hornets on March 29, 2019 at STAPLES Center in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2019 NBAE (Photo by Chris Elise/NBAE via Getty Images)
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Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma told ESPN's Ohm Youngmisuk that he believes he can be the team's third star behind LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

"I don't feel no pressure, but I believe that I am capable of being that superstar," Kuzma told Youngmisuk. "I put in 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.

"Last year I didn't shoot the ball well, and I still averaged almost 20. 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]."

Kuzma, 24, averaged 18.7 points and 5.5 rebounds last season. He made 45.6 percent of his field goals but hit just 30.3 percent of his three-pointers, down from 36.6 percent the year before.

The former Utah Ute figures to see more open looks with defenses keying in on James and Davis, a fact that Kuzma recognizes as he looks to make a leap:

"I've never been a ball-dominant guy. 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."

Kuzma remained on the Lakers this offseason after the team traded Brandon Ingram, Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart as part of a larger package to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for Davis, a six-time All-Star.

He may need to emerge as that third star for the Lakers to win a loaded Western Conference.

Per Caesars Palace in late July, four West teams had higher over/under win totals heading into next season.

That list included the Los Angeles Clippers, a team that added Kawhi Leonard and Paul George to a roster largely intact after a 48-34 season last year. In addition, the Houston Rockets now have the NBA's highest-scoring backcourt with Russell Westbrook joining James Harden.

The Clips, Rockets and the rest of the Western Conference's top teams are loaded offensively, and the Lakers will likely find themselves needing to keep pace. That's where Kuzma can be most beneficial as a player who can post 20 points a game if needed.

The weight isn't all on Kuzma's shoulders to provide the bulk of the offense sans the Lakers' main two stars. Of note, Los Angeles has a wild card in DeMarcus Cousins, who could emerge as the tertiary scoring option.

Cousins missed nearly an entire calendar year with a ruptured Achilles before returning to the court in January 2019 with the Golden State Warriors. He proceeded to post 16.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 3.6 assists in 25.7 minutes per game. It was a good effort considering a year layoff plus a midseason introduction to a new team.

The question is whether Cousins can enjoy a stretch of good health and transition well with his new teammates on the court. If that happens and Kuzma's preseason confidence comes to fruition, then the Lakers should be the Western Conference team to beat.