LeBron James and Kyle Kuzma may no longer be teammates, but that doesn’t mean that the former Laker has forgotten the impact LeBron had on him.
Kuzma was dealt to the Washington Wizards along with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell in exchange for superstar Russell Westbrook. The move was clearly made to keep the Lakers at the top of the Western Conference and in title contention for years to come.
LeBron and Anthony Davis make a fine pairing, but what’s the harm in adding a third star. Kuzma looked like he could have been the steal of the draft. Despite the hype around Lonzo Ball being picked at number two, Kuzma seemed to outperform him after being picked at 27.
However, things didn’t pan out, and now Kuzma is set to take on a new role with the Washington Wizards, without LeBron.
— NBA Draft (@NBADraft) April 24, 2018
Kyle Kuzma Said That LeBron James Had A Great Impact On His Career
A strong rookie season had Lakers fans excited that they didn’t just land one top tier prospect in Lonzo Ball but two with how well Kuzma played.
Kuzma only took it up a notch in his second year in 2018-19 when the Lakers signed LeBron James in a crazy offseason move. Kuzma’s averages went up to 18.7 points per game as he shot the ball at a 45.6% clip.
However, Kuzma couldn’t keep that scoring up once Anthony Davis joined the team in the 2019-20 season as his scoring average has dipped to 12.8 and 12.9 points per game in the two years since.
Lakers fans and the organization were disappointed, and thus when the opportunity presented itself to move on from Kuzma for a player like Westbrook (who just came off of averaging a triple double for the fourth time in his career), they took it.
However, Kuzma hasn’t forgotten everything he learned from LeBron during his four year tenure in LA. He spoke up about LeBron’s impact, saying:
“I know that being around LeBron has reshaped my thinking in all of these important ways. Like, just the idea of thinking about a game as being about more than the score. I think in my first couple of years here, I was kind of a slave to the scoreboard. But now, I’ve had multiple games this year, where I’ve pushed myself so far beyond that.”
LeBron’s all-around game play was also something that Kuzma took notice of, something he wants to emulate as he advances his career.
“Or the idea of fully committing to doing it all — and just watching a guy like LeBron play defense, score, playmake, and also rebound, basically go all out, every single night. I never thought I would ever even come close to triple doubles….. but I understand how that kind of game is possible now.”
Kuzma will hope to regain some of his swagger with the Wizards this year as he once again finds himself in an opportunity to be a primary scorer alongside Bradley Beal as the Wizards don’t truly have a second scoring option.
— The Players’ Tribune (@PlayersTribune) August 10, 2021