Kuzma, who was traded along with Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in the Lakers’ deal for Russell Westbrook, said he was “hurt” about the narratives and how people perceived him following the trade.
Kyle Kuzma says he was in a "dark place" leaving the Lakers because of the narratives surrounding his exit: "How peope perceived me… it kind of hurt me a little bit."
— Chase Hughes (@chasedcsports) September 23, 2022
The No. 27 pick from the 2017 NBA Draft, Kuzma was an extremely important player for the Lakers during their run to win the NBA title in the 2019-20 season.
What may be more impressive about Kuzma’s Lakers tenure is the fact that he transitioned from a regular starter into a bench role once the team traded for Anthony Davis.
In the season prior to Davis joining the Lakers, Kuzma started 68 games and averaged 18.7 points per game.
A key shooter and defender, Kuzma started just 41 of the 129 games he played in for the Lakers following Davis’ arrival. Now, he has a much bigger role in Washington alongside Bradley Beal.
Kuzma played well in the 2021-22 season in Washington. He averaged 17.1 points, 8.5 rebounds and 3.5 assists per game while shooting 45.2 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from beyond the arc.
While the Wizards failed to make the playoffs, Kuzma showed once again that he can be a top option for a team offensively.
It’s a shame that he had to go through a dark period following the trade from the Lakers, as Kuzma did a lot of good for the franchise while he was in L.A. The team believed a move for Westbrook would bring it back to the NBA Finals, but instead the Lakers missed the playoffs in the 2021-22 season.
Now that he is in Washington, Kuzma has a chance to forge his own career path out of the shadow of James and Davis. Hopefully, he can look back on his time with the Lakers positively, as he won an NBA title despite being with the team for just four seasons.