The Los Angeles Lakers traded Kyle Kuzma this past offseason to the Washington Wizards in the swap that brought Russell Westbrook to LA. Part of the reason why this move ultimately happened was the 26-year-old’s dwindling production. By the end of Kuzma’s run with the purple and gold, the frustration from both sides was palpable.
In 2018-19, Kuzma put up a career high 18.9 points per game. Sadly, when Anthony Davis was acquired from the New Orleans Pelicans, his numbers fell off a cliff.
Last season Kuzma averaged 12.9 points and 5.5 rebounds per game and struggled badly to make any sort of meaningful impact on the team in the playoffs.
Because Kuzma has objectively gotten progressively worse, a lot of the NBA’s more well-known talking heads have periodically been hard on him. It appears that took its toll.
On Sunday, Kuzma lashed out at NBA analysts.
“NFL player turned analyst maturity level talking about [and] analyzing their respected sport is far superior to the NBA guys,” he tweeted. “Too many clowns and thirst…those guys help you understand the sport.”
It’s not hard to read between the lines there. TNT’s two biggest personalities, Charles Barkley and Shaquille O’Neal, also happen to be the most unabashed critics of modern-day NBA players.
Whether it’s Barkley calling out LeBron James and his crew for shadiness or O’Neal going off on whoever is bothering him that particular week – neither man ever bites his tongue.
Kuzma’s criticism isn’t unique. Both Kevin Durant and James have offered a similar assessment.
A Chiefs player couldn’t stop checking out the owner’s daughter yesterday. The photos speak for themselves. https://t.co/Dbk5ifxWwi
— Game 7 (@game7__) September 27, 2021
As is usually the case, there is a reasonable case to be made for both sides. On one hand, Kuzma’s poor play warranted recognition by the NBA’s more prominent analysts. There’s nothing wrong with calling it how you see it. On the other, it’s hard not to feel like sometimes Barkley and O’Neal’s criticism is so pointed that it borders on hate.
That said, this probably isn’t the way forward for Kuzma. If he wants NBA broadcasters to stop hating on him, crying about it won’t help. The only real solution is playing better — which he seems to understand.