Wizards striker Kyle Kuzma’s latest hotline shows flashes of the player he was expecting

Kyle Kuzma often finds his name in the Twitter timeline For his clothes on the runway before the matchBut when was the last time you saw him playing on the field?

For most people, it was probably since he wore the Lakers uniform last season, so if it’s been a long time, you might want to tune in.

The 26-year-old is enjoying the best period of his career, looking like the player he once expected after averaging 16 points and six rebounds per game as a rookie, earning the All-Rookie First Team honor with the return of Los Los Angeles. in 2018.

But before we get to his final resurrection, let’s think about how it ended up here.

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Kuzma showed so much potential during his junior season that he was seen as a building block in Los Angeles’ next quest for a title. Once LeBron James arrived in town – along with trade rumors that would inevitably follow – Kuzma somehow managed to be the only young player to survive the exodus.

They did not re-sign Julius Randle to make room for James, and after one season, the Lakers replaced the rest of their youth core in a package for Anthony Davis. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart were all sent to New Orleans, yet Kuzma was the only young player to stick with him. (To be clear: Alex Caruso also stuck around, but it wasn’t seen as as valuable then as it is now.)

It got to the point where Kobe Bryant was talking about why the Lakers saw Kuzma as “untouchable”.

Kuzma won the 2020 NBA Championship with the Lakers, but after they failed in 2021, Los Angeles tried to act quickly to maximize LeBron’s championship window. Kuzma, along with Montreal Harrell, Kentavius ​​Caldwell Bob, traded a first-round pick to the Wizards for Russell Westbrook, which brings us up to speed.

That deal allowed Kuzma to establish himself as a player in his first season off the James wing since his rookie year, and he made the most of that opportunity, maximizing his skills in ways he wasn’t able to in Los Angeles. .

(Getty Images)

Take this last extension for example.

I can write that Kuzma is averaging 23.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists shooting with 52.4 percent of the field over his last 11 games, but he doesn’t do it quite as fair as he does when you see those games listed:

  • Against the Knicks: 18 points, 10 points REB
  • For 76 points: 12 points, 10 REB . points
  • Heat vs. 22 points, 7 reps
  • vs. Cavaliers: 25 points, 10 rep
  • vs. bulls: 29 points, 12 weak points
  • vs. Hornets: 36 points, 14 reps, 6 ast
  • vs. Rockets: 24 points, 9 reb
  • Against the bulls: 21 points, 11 points REB
  • For Magic: 27 points, 22 REB (!)
  • vs. Thunder: 29 points, 5 reb
  • vs Magic: 19 points, 10 reps, 9 ast

During this run, Kuzma had eight doubles, a nine-game winning streak of 20 points and an unfathomable game of 27 points and 22 rebounds. After a near-double effort on Wednesday, the Wizards have now won three games in a row, and they appear to be back on track after their hot start was derailed by a regression into the middle.

Kuzma has been the most influential player in this rapid transformation, growing as a shot creator, playmaker, and creator with each game.

His nine passes against magic were the highest level of the season, Fastbreak swipes Like we’ve never seen it before. He had a move on the National Basketball Association’s official Twitter account comparing her feet to Hakim Aliwan’s “Dream Shake.”

He has evolved into the reliable No. 2 scoring option behind Bradley Beal with his powerful on-screen shot throughout this recent hot streak.

Most impressive, however, is that Kuzma was there for the Wizards any time they needed a clutch shot, dropping a handful of daggers – whether it was to keep the game out of hand, tie or win the game.

According to the NBA stats, Kuzma’s 65-point clutch ranked seventh in the league, trailing Joel Embiid, Jason Tatum, Demar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Ja Morant and Zach Lavigne.

Talk about a decent company.

Kuzma shot 51.3 percent from the field and 50.0 percent from 3 in clutch positions – better shot percentages than every player mentioned above except DeRozan.

He has two winners this season: one against the Pistons and one against the Cavaliers. He was going to get a third against the bulls, but Derosan’s second super beater in several days ruined that for him.

All to say, this season, Kuzma has been a lot more than proper photos you see on Twitter or any perception you still have of him since his Laker days.

He was a legitimate squad builder at The Wizards and began to thrive in the player he was destined to be after his rookie season in Los Angeles.

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Andrew Naughtie

News reporter and author at @websalespromo