Kyle Kuzma’s Playmaking Fueling the Washington Wizards’ Red-Hot Start, but Wise Old Spencer Dinwiddie Has Some Lessons to Offer

The Washington Wizards have been red hot to start the year, with a five-game winning streak and Kyle Kuzma playing some of his best basketball. Although he’s averaging 16 points per game on 47% shooting from beyond the arc, it is not just his scoring that has propelled them so far this season. He also holds an average of 4 assists and 3 rebounds while creating 19 turnovers for opponents in those games.

The “wizards roster” has been a major reason for the Washington Wizards’ success. Kyle Kuzma has been playing at an MVP level and has helped lead them to a 10-3 start. However, Spencer Dinwiddie is not as old as he looks and still has some lessons to teach the young team.

In the Eastern Conference, the Washington Wizards hold the best record. They hold the NBA’s second-best record. Allow those two sentences to soak in for a second. Over the previous 13 seasons, the Wizards have only had four winning seasons, haven’t won 50 games since 1978–79, and their last NBA title was in 1978. During the summer, they traded superstar Russell Westbrook. And they’re the East’s top team? What happened to cause that? Kyle Kuzma’s performance, on the other hand, has been very beneficial.

Last summer, when Westbrook was moved to the Los Angeles Lakers for Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and Kyle Kuzma, Washington general manager Tommy Sheppard chose volume above stardom. As a consequence, the defense has vastly improved, and the attack is now on the lookout for mismatches. They triumph because to their ability to strike a balance. And it’s happening despite Bradley Beal’s frigid start. Kuzma may not have started it all, but he’s a significant part of what’s going on in Washington.

Kyle Kuzma is excelling for the Washington Wizards in a new position.

Kyle Kuzma is turning into an all-around player for the Washington Wizards but teammate Spencer Dinwiddie says he's still got some work to do

Kyle Kuzma is turning into an all-around player for the Washington Wizards but teammate Spencer Dinwiddie says he's still got some work to do The Washington Wizards’ Kyle Kuzma is developing into an all-around player, but teammate Spencer Dinwiddie is a character in the film Spencer Dinwiddie believes he still has work to do. | Getty Images/G Fiume

Kyle Kuzma’s transformation into a foundation piece in Los Angeles was never fair to Lakers fans. He was a fantastic late-round find, a 27th overall choice that paid off handsomely. He offered offense and optimism to the Lakers while they were suffering. His role shifted as they improved. For LA’s championship run in 2020, he largely came off the bench. After Anthony Davis came, his scoring dropped.

Kuzma has benefited from a clear role and the faith of coach Wes Unseld Jr. since joining the Washington Wizards. Unseld has Kuzma as a stretch-4, and he’s shooting 37.8% on 6.8 3-point attempts per game, both career highs. He’s also averaging 9.2 rebounds per game, which is a career high.

Although his 1.9 assists per game may not compare to John Stockton’s, he has gained playmaking skills. But he’s seeking for teammates and sticking inside the system, and the much-improved Wizards are making noise in a tumultuous Eastern Conference early in the season.

Even still, as teammate Spencer Dinwiddie pointed out, Kuzma’s passing remains a work in progress.

Kyle Kuzma is still working on mastering the no-look pass.

Last season, Kyle Kuzma led the Lakers with 13 double-doubles. He has five assists in his first 12 games with the Washington Wizards. In a victory against the Boston Celtics on Oct. 30, he had 17 points and a career-high 17 rebounds. The former University of Utah star had a season-high five assists in the Wizards’ win against the reigning champion Milwaukee Bucks on Nov. 7.

In a three-point win against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Nov. 10, Kuzma went 6-of-9 from 3-point range, and he had his fifth double-double of the season with 17 points and 10 rebounds in a road win over the Orlando Magic on Nov. 13.

However, following the triumph against the Magic, Dinwiddie pointed out that Kuzma still has work to do as a passing magician:

“On occasion, Kuz will throw glance passes rather than no-look throws. He tosses the ball, the person catches it, and then he stares in this direction. ‘That’s not how a no-look pass works, man,’ it’s like. However, he’s still learning the intricacies of that side of things.”

Spencer Dinwiddie

It’s the sound of a player and his squad having a good time. They’re winning, they’re feeling good, and they’re already at ease as a bunch, so a little lighthearted busting of chops won’t hurt.

The Washington Wizards won the No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season after advancing through the play-in round. Following that, the Philadelphia 76ers swept them in five games.

They were a squad that fit into the center of the pack. Washington concluded with a 34–38 record, ranking 17th in offensive rating and 19th on defense.

The newcomers in Washington, with the exception of Caldwell-Pope, were not known for their defensive abilities. Kyle Kuzma, on the other hand, is using Unseld’s new method to conduct his business. Even the Wizards’ much-maligned defender Harrell is averaging 1.1 blocks per game off the bench, combining with starter Daniel Gafford to provide rim protection the club hasn’t seen in a while.

Washington is 9–3 on the season, and Beal is shooting a dismal 25.0 percent from outside the arc. He was out of the victory against Orlando due to persistent trade speculations, but reserve Aaron Holiday filled in with 11 points and four assists in 34 minutes. Dinwiddie had 23 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists to lead the team.

It was a great team effort from what seems to be a strong East squad. The longer the Washington Wizards stay around the top of the Eastern Conference standings, the more tough it will be to write them off. They acquired depth in guys like Kyle Kuzma, Harrell, Dinwiddie, and Caldwell-Pope while removing a superstar. It might be the start of something in Washington that hasn’t happened in over a half-century.

Basketball Reference and Stathead provided the statistics.

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