The Los Angeles Lakers traded Kyle Kuzma to the Washington Wizards in the deal that saw Russell Westbrook come home to LA.
In the months since, Kuzma seems to have warmed up to his change in circumstance. Playing in D.C., away from LeBron James and Anthony Davis, has permitted him to take a more central role in the Wizards’ offense.
Kuzma is currently playing his most minutes, putting up his most shot attempts, and scoring his most points since 2018. In the process, he has helped lead the Wizards to a 10-4 mark – the best in the Eastern Conference.
This past week Kuzma appeared on ESPN’s “NBA Today” and revealed one big reason he was happy to be off the Lakers.
.@kylekuzma says he’s using what he learned in LA to be a front player for the Wizards 🙌
“This is kind of what I wanted. … An opportunity to not be in someone’s shadows.” pic.twitter.com/eGwNmKEBGn
— NBA on ESPN (@ESPNNBA) November 16, 2021
“It’s very fun obviously,” he said. “From an individual standpoint, this is kind of what I wanted. An opportunity just to not be in someone’s shadows or have that type of logjam [from] a roster standpoint.
“Being here has been extremely fun,” Kuzma added. “I have the opportunity to come in and lead and use my championship mentality and everything I’ve learned from those two guys out in L.A. [LeBron James and Anthony Davis]. It’s been wonders for my career, and I think people are seeing that now.”
Paulina Gretzky knows how to go viral. https://t.co/MJnHf7EJ1y
— Game 7 (@game7__) November 18, 2021
Kuzma is averaging 14.5 points and 9.1 rebounds per game this year. That’s quite the difference from riding the bench in LA last year.
This past summer, shortly after he was traded, Kuzma made a bold pledge regarding his future. So far, he seems to be living up to it.