Washington Wizards: deep dive into Kyle Kuzma’s play this season

Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards battles through a crowd against the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards battles through a crowd against the Toronto Raptors (Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

So far this season, Kyle Kuzma has been great for the Washington Wizards. He is seeing numbers at or near career highs nearly across the board. There is very little that he is missing from his resume this season.

Kuzma nearly made the All-Star game this season as he contributes very heavily to the offense for the Wizards and is also one of the better defensive players in the starting lineup. He was one of the biggest All-Star snubs in the Eastern Conference.

He is averaging 21.4 points, 7.3 rebounds, and 3.8 assists per game. Those are certainly All-Star caliber numbers. There is still however one thing holding him back from taking the next step towards becoming a true star.

Kyle Kuzma’s efficiency has been lackluster this season despite his otherwise great numbers.

While his core stats have been elite, the advanced stats and efficiency numbers for Kuzma have been less than ideal. This has been the only stain on his otherwise great season. However, there is an explanation for that.

Due to a combination of poor coaching and an unfortunate lack of ball movement, not necessarily two separate issues, Kyle Kuzma has been stuck in some tough situations. He is largely used as a bail out option for the offense when nothing else opens up.

Many of his shot attempts come either at the end of the shot clock or with a defender right in his face, sometimes both. Even his open shots often end up with a high degree of difficulty, he has taken shots from behind the backboard and from the logo at times this season due to those being the best shots available.

This makes it understandable that he is only shooting 44.4% from the field and 33.3% from three despite being a high-quality scorer. Although, his free throw percentage of 72.8% could be better.

Kyle Kuzma’s impact goes beyond the stat line, even with his impressive output.

As previously noted, Kuzma hasn’t been the most efficient player on the floor at any point this season. However, due to the high difficulty of his shots, every single one of his points is felt by both teams.

When he hits threes with two defenders in his face, it lights a torch for the Wizards and rallies the players. These plays are also back breaking for any defense as they usually come at the end of the shot clock. Playing great defense for the full 24 seconds and still watching as three points are added to the opposing team is incredibly demoralizing.

These types of made shots also act as spark plugs for the Wizards forward. He is capable of going for big scoring streaks. In the last few weeks there have been multiple games where he makes numerous shots in a row or goes on big scoring runs, giving his team a lead. This includes a ten to nothing run to start the game against the Raptors to give the Wizards a double-digit lead early in the first quarter.

He has also been a decent defensive player this season despite the lack of defensive statistics backing up that statement. He only averages half a block and half a steal while his advanced defensive stats are also underwhelming. Despite that, he does a decent job staying between his man and the basket. He also often times takes the best opposing wing on defense until Deni Avdija enters the game.

Many of his advanced defensive stats are held back by a poor defensive scheme, something that seems to be a trend with the Wizards. Many of the problems with his statistics seem to stem from this.

While Kyle Kuzma didn’t make the All-Star Game this season, he definitely deserved it. With the level of difficulty on many of his attempts and the poor gameplan put in place the only stain on his case is explained away with ease.

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