A recent hot series of Wizards striker Kyle Kuzma shows glimpses of a player expected to be

Kyle Kuzma often finds his name on the Twitter timeline for his clothes on the pre-match trackbut when was the last time you saw him play on the court?

For most, it’s probably since he was in the Lakers last season, so if it’s been a while, you may want to tune in.

The 26-year-old enjoys the best of his career and looks like a player who was once expected to be an average after rebounding 16 points and six rebounds per game and earning an All-Rookie First Team award to return to Los Angeles. in 2018.

But before we get to its recent recovery, let’s remember how it ended here.

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Kuzma showed so much potential during his rookie season that he became a building block for Los Angeles’ next title hunt. As soon as LeBron James came to town – along with the business rumors that inevitably haunt him – Kuzm somehow managed to be the only young player to survive the mass exodus.

They didn’t sign Julie Randl again to make room for James, and after one season the Lakers traded the rest of their young core in the package for Anthony Davis. Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Josh Hart were all sent to New Orleans, but Kuzma was the only young core player left. (To be clear: Alex Caruso also stuck around, but then he wasn’t considered as valuable as he is now.)

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

Kuzma won the NBA Championship with the Lakers in 2020, but after failing in 2021, Los Angeles struggled to act quickly to maximize LeBron’s championship window. That traded Kuzma with Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and the Wizards first round for Russell Westbrook, which brings us to speed.

The deal allowed Kuzm to prove himself as a player in his first season under James’ wing since his rookie year, taking the opportunity to maximize his skills in ways he would never be able to do in Los Angeles. .

(Getty Images)

Take this recent stretch, for example.

I can write that Kuzma averages 23.8 points, 10.9 rebounds and 3.3 assists, having shot 52.4 percent of the field in the last 11 games, but it’s not doing as well as seeing the matches listed:

  • vs. Knicks: 18 PTS, 10 REB
  • vs. 76ers: 12 PTS, 10 REB
  • vs. Heat: 22 PTS, 7 REB
  • vs. Cavaliers: 25 PTS, 10 REB
  • bulls: 29 PTS, 12 REB
  • vs. Hornets: 36 PTS, 14 REB, 6 AST
  • vs. missiles: 24 PTS, 9 REB
  • bulls: 21 PTS, 11 REB
  • vs. Magic: 27 PTS, 22 REB (!)
  • vs. Thunder: 29 PTS, 5 REB
  • vs. Magic: 19 PTS, 10 REB, 9 AST

In this section, Kuzma had eight doubles, a series of nine matches of 20 points and an incredible 27 points and 22 rebounds. After Wednesday’s almost triple double-double, the Wizards won three games in a row and seem to have returned to the right path after a hot start derailed by regression to average.

Kuzma was the most impressive player in this fast turnaround and with each game he grew as a shooter, game maker and deterrent.

His nine assists against Magic were seasonal highs. hand out passes behind your back on fastbreak like we’ve never seen before. He had a post that had an official NBA Twitter account comparing his footwork to Hakeem Olajuwon’s “Dream Shake.”

And he evolved into a reliable No. 2 scoring option behind Bradley Beal with his hard shooting, which was exposed during this recent hot series.

Most impressive, however, is that Kuzma was for the Wizards whenever they needed a shot from the clutch and knocked down a handful of daggers – whether it was taking the game out of range, a tie or winning.

According to NBA statistics, Kuzma’s 65 points in the league ranked seventh in the league, behind Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, DeMar DeRozan, Kevin Durant, Ja Morant and Zach LaVine.

Talk about decent company.

Kuzma shot 51.3 percent of the field and 50.0 percent of 3 in clutch situations – shooting percentages are better than all of the above players except DeRozan.

He has two match winners this season: one against the Pistons and one against the Cavaliers. He would have a third against the Bulls, but DeRozan’s miraculous second buzzard destroyed it in so many days.

All this, so to speak, this season, Kuzma was much more than just the pictures you see on Twitter, or anything you still have about him from his Laker days.

He was a legitimate difference maker for the Wizards, and after his groundbreaking rookie season in Los Angeles, he began to flourish in what he was expected to be.

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