As the offseason is slowly wrapping up, it’s time to take a look ahead to what awaits us in the 2023-24 season. The Washington Wizards depth chart and rotation are set, other than a few potential minor moves. As it’s looking like Kyle Kuzma is going to be the leader of the team along with Jordan Poole, let’s speculate about what kind of a season we should expect from him.
Kyle Kuzma signed a relatively team-friendly contract worth $90 million plus incentives for 4 years this offseason. He and Jordan Poole will be the highest-paid Wizards for the 2023-24 season. With this, comes a responsibility to be not only team leaders but also its best players.
Kuzma has shown massive improvement since joining the Wizards and there shouldn’t be any doubt in his ability to add to his game in a bigger role. In the 2022-23 season, he finished with averages of 21.2 points, 7.2 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 0.6 steals, and 0.5 blocks on 44.8% from the field, 33.3% from three, and 73% from the free throw line shooting. The points and assists were career-highs.
Can Kuzma maintain his efficiency in a bigger offensive role?
The key to Kuzma’s success will be his offensive efficiency. With the departures of Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, Kuzma now has a larger offensive role. He will be the primary or secondary scoring option all season. He needs to make sure this doesn’t impact his efficiency.
Kuzma’s 54.4 True Shooting percentage is already below the league average. If this takes a hit with less spacing and a bigger offensive load, the Wizards offense will struggle.
The path for Kuzma to maintain or improve his efficiency is through his free throw and three-point shooting percentages. Kuzma has been better at getting to the free throw line since joining the Wizards two seasons ago, but he has to convert more of his free throw attempts. If he can hit 80% from the charity stripe, it will do wonders for him as an offensive player.
The same is true for his outside shooting as well. His three-point percentage last season was basically the same as his career three-point accuracy of 33.8%. He shoots a lot of difficult, off-the-dribble threes on high volume, but he still needs to be over 36% to take his offensive game to the next level.
This would be a huge and difficult improvement given the dearth of offensive talent and experience on the Wizards.
Kuzma should average career-highs in points and assists per game
What is more likely to happen is an increase in his scoring and passing numbers. He should average career-highs in points and assists, as well as field goal, three-point, and free-throw attempts per game. If he can do all of this while also increasing his efficiency, it will be a massively successful season for Kyle Kuzma.
It would be the icing on the cake if Kuzma can improve his defensive playmaking numbers. A player of his size, length, and athleticism should average more than 1.1 stocks (steals+blocks). Considering that he will now be the defensive leader of this team, he needs to lead by example and be more active in help defense and rim protection. It would be a fantastic season if he can average over 1 steal and close to 1 block per game.
Kuzma’s performance will be one of the most determinant factors for the Wizards’ success in the 2023-24 season. The three possible scenarios for what Kuzma’s stat line will look like at the end are as follows:
The best-case scenario: 25 points, 9 rebounds, 5 assists, 1 steal, 1 block, 46% fg, 36% 3pt, 79% ft
Realistic scenario: 22 points, 8 rebounds, 4.5 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.7 blocks, 44% fg, 34% 3pt, 75% ft
The worst-case scenario: 20 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, 0.6 steals, 0.5 blocks, 42% fg, 31% 3pt, 73% ft
It will be fascinating to see what Kuzma will be capable of heading into his prime as a 28-year-old.