Kyle Kuzma says some NBA stars wanting to join Team USA better be ‘cool’ with defending and standing in corner on some possessions

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read

Team USA’s stint in the 2023 FIBA World Cup was underwhelming, to put it mildly. Despite boasting the world’s most talented roster, the team finished the tournament in fourth place and didn’t win a medal.

Washington Wizards star forward and former Los Angeles Laker Kyle Kuzma sent a strong message on X (formerly known as Twitter) to NBA players about wanting to be part of Team USA.

Kuzma, 28, was selected with the No. 27 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft following a three-season stint playing college basketball at the University of Utah.

The forward’s first two seasons with the Utes were forgettable, however. He failed to average more than 10.8 points per game in either season and served as a valuable role player rather than a star.

It wasn’t until Kuzma’s third and final season with the Utes, the 2016-17 season, that he established himself as a legitimate college basketball star. He averaged 16.4 points, 9.3 rebounds, 2.4 assists and 0.6 steals per game across 29 appearances with the team (all starts). Kuzma also shot efficiently from the field, as he converted 50.4 percent of his field-goal attempts as a junior.

The 28-year-old’s contributions translated to plenty of wins for the 2016-17 iteration of the Utes, too. They finished the season with an impressive 20-12 record but missed out on the NCAA Tournament.

Kuzma has played for two teams — the Lakers and Wizards — across his six seasons in the NBA. He is fresh off arguably the best season of his pro career, as he averaged 21.2 points, 7.2 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game in 64 games played with the Wizards during the 2022-23 regular season (all starts).

Kuzma’s best season as a Laker, though, came during the 2018-19 season. He averaged 18.7 points per game in the regular season, the second-highest scoring average on the roster behind only LeBron James. Additionally, Kuzma averaged 5.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

The forward’s message to players who hope to be on Team USA will hopefully resonate with them. Kuzma himself certainly makes sense as a candidate to play for Team USA, as he’s an unselfish player who does the little things that help his team win.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.