1. Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder – Wed., Jan. 17 at 8 p.m. ET on ESPN
Fit player to watch: Kyle Kuzma (Lakers) – The power forward has been an energizing force for the Lakers this season, and one reason why might be because of the boxing workouts he did over the summer. Kuzma joins a long list of basketball stars who are using boxing in their training, and it’s translated to the court for him: He’s averaging 16.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, both ranked in the top five among rookies.
It’s no surprise that a Lakers draft pick is in the running for the Rookie of the Year Award. What is a surprise is that it’s the 27th-overall pick, Kuzma, that’s been making headlines, not No.2 overall selection Lonzo Ball. It’s not a knock on Ball so much as praise for Kuzma, who has been putting up comparable numbers to Sixers uber-rookie Ben Simmons, the presumptive favorite for the award.
Even though the Lakers are out of the playoff hunt, the Oklahoma City Thunder can’t afford to overlook them. Things are finally starting to click for the Thunder, who have pulled out of an early-season slump with strong play by Carmelo Anthony and Paul George alongside reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. With young stars like Kuzma and Ball going up against OKC’s “Big 3,” there should be plenty of athleticism on display.
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