When the Los Angeles Lakers traded away their assets for Anthony Davis, many people thought Kyle Kuzma would step up to be that third option. His numbers, however, didn’t live up to the Laker fans’ expectations. A lot of them suggested that he should’ve been the one packaged in the trade instead of Brandon Ingram. Ingram’s numbers took a leap as he won the 2019-20 Most Improved Player of the Year award.
Kuzma’s numbers, on the other hand, took a dip in his new role with a brand new coaching staff and a team in hopes of reaching a championship. When the Lakers decided to trade for Russell Westbrook, a package around Kuzma was sent to Washington’s way. Kuzma finally got his opportunity to shine and now in his third year with the Wizards, Kuzma is now showing the doubters that he can be a leader for a team.
Through seven games this season, Kuzma is averaging 25 points per game with great efficiency. He’s shooting 50.7% from the field and 83% from the charity stripe, both career-highs. He has talked about stepping up as a leader for this team ever since he came to Washington and how he wants to be a guy the team can rely on. Fans have expected him and Jordan Poole to put up big numbers this season.
Kuzma has been holding up his end of the bargain and hasn’t scored less than 21 points all season, with the highest being a 33-point game against the Charlotte Hornets last game. Kuzma is the only player on the Wizards roster averaging over 20 points per game currently. He has been looking like a Swiss army knife ever since he arrived with the Wizards, showing his all-around skill set on a nightly basis. Players like Kuzma are needed in today’s game, the do-it-all forwards with size who can fill the box score in multiple categories.
The Washington Wizards are in a rebuilding phase right now. John Wall, Russell Westbrook, Bradley Beal, and Kristaps Porzingis have all come and left. Now with the team committed to finally tearing it down, it is refreshing to have a player like Kyle Kuzma around as a foundational piece.
Some skeptics might cast doubt on his play as “empty stats” because the Wizards haven’t been winning. Washington may be 2-5 on the season but Kuzma knows the sacrifices necessary to win. He has sacrificed his own individual stats to win the 2020 championship with the Lakers. He was a starter averaging almost 19 points per game before the championship year. Yet, he still embraced his sixth-man role the year after, thriving as an off-the-bench scorer.
With Kuzma finally having the opportunity to lead a team, he continues to improve and show he can become a great player in this league. If the Wizards can continue to build around the young pieces they have and Kuzma continues to get better, they can be a winning franchise again.