Throughout the first chapter of his career with the Los Angeles Lakers, Kyle Kuzma was seen as a good, but not great NBA player. Of course, he was a valuable member of the 2020 Lakers championship squad, but by that point in his tenure with the team, he had lost his starting role and came off the bench in all 21 of their playoff games.
Things have changed dramatically since he was traded from the Lakers in the 2021 NBA offseason, however, and he is now expected to command a contract of $20 million to $25 million per year next summer.
Kuzma, who now plays on the Washington Wizards, has displayed an incredible amount of progression in the days since that trade. He’s showing out for the Wizards and gaining a lot of recognition and respect around the NBA.
“For his part, Kuzma is expected to approach in excess of $20 million to $25 million per year on a new deal next summer, rival executives believe,” Shams Charania of The Athletic reported. “Kuzma, who is averaging 7.7 rebounds and 3.6 assists to go along with 20.6 points, is in the second season of the three-year, $40 million contract he signed with the Lakers in 2020.”
Though the trade that sent Kuzma to Washington in the summer of 2021 was centered around former MVP Russell Westbrook, a very real argument can be made that, at this point, Kuzma is the best player that was involved in that deal.
He has taken full advantage of no longer having to play in the shadows of former teammates LeBron James and Anthony Davis, and he looks to be really enjoying his responsibilities on the floor.
What is yet to be seen is if Kuzma’s personal success this season will lead to any team success for the Wizards. Though the Wizards have looked solid at times, such as during a stretch last month when they won six of seven games, they haven’t been able to sustain success yet.
They’re currently 11-13 on the season.
Still, the East is wide open, and there is only a two-game difference between the No. 10 seed, where the Wizards currently reside, and the No. 4 seed. A week or two of strong results could bump the Wizards back up in the standings.
What is clear at this point is that Kuzma is going to be involved in whatever success the Wizards enjoy from here on out. It will be interesting to see if he decides to take his talents elsewhere on an impressive new deal when the time comes for that decision to be made.