After Kyle Kuzma made his debut in the NBA with the Los Angeles Lakers in 2017, it didn’t take long for him to showcase his skills as a scorer.
In his rookie season, he averaged 16.1 points per game while also contributing 6.3 rebounds and 2.1 3-pointers per contest. Because of his strong play, he was selected to the All-Rookie First Team for the 2017-18 campaign despite being drafted 27th overall.
Things significantly changed for the franchise the following season with the arrival of LeBron James. Kuzma continued to improve his game, increasing his scoring average and starting virtually all season.
However, it was the arrival of Anthony Davis in the 2019 offseason that put a damper on Kuzma’s growth. He needed to transform into something of a role player behind the superstar duo of James and Davis.
The 6-foot-9 forward recently reflected on his role with Los Angeles.
“It’s a double-edged sword, a double-edged sword, for sure,” Kuzma said to FOX Sports. “I believe that it was some of the best things to ever happen to me, you know, getting drafted, being a Laker, having that platform. Having millions and millions of people globally know who you are, that’s a blessing. That’s part of being a Laker. Learning from LeBron, winning a championship — it’s all been great.
“But at the same time, I always look back and wish I would’ve gotten the fairer end of the stick a little bit, just with my role and how much I sacrificed. It’s cool to sacrifice. That’s the only way you win championships, everybody has to sacrifice. But, just getting the fairer end of the stick, I feel like I never really got [that]. But everything happens for a reason. I’m here now [in Washington], and I’ve been able to expand my game and flourish.”
Of course, winning a ring surely made the experience worth it for Kuzma. After all, not everyone gets an opportunity to compete for and win an NBA title. The 27-year-old even believes that the Lakers would have repeated in the 2020-21 campaign if the injury bug didn’t get in the way.
Since he was traded by Los Angeles to the Washington Wizards in the 2021 offseason, Kuzma has assumed a bigger role on offense. As a result, he has had arguably the best stretch of his six-year career. This season, he is recording averages of 21.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 3.5 assists per contest.
It seems that he has become a wanted commodity in the league, as some teams have apparently shown interest in acquiring him. The Lakers have reportedly inquired about trading for Kuzma, but Washington does not seem to be willing to let go of him that easily.