The No. 27 overall pick in the NBA Draft is a crapshoot. Often, that player won’t even stick in the league. When they do, it’s usually as a fairly unspectacular player. But the Los Angeles Lakers found someone special at No. 27 in the 2017 NBA Draft when they selected Kyle Kuzma. Over the past four seasons, they’ve watched him grow from an unheralded rookie into a key member of a championship team.
Now, Kuzma is headed for Washington after being included in a trade package for Russell Westbrook. After years playing a supporting role on a contender, he will have the chance to prove what he’s learned on a younger team that will expect him to play a bigger role. But before his next chapter as a Wizard begins, he wanted to thank the Lakers for four great years. He did so in a lengthy Instagram post on Friday.
“Man oh man where do I begin???” Kuzma wrote. “Lakeshow we’ve had a journey. I was 21 and just a young pup coming here and you guys opened up your arms openly and accepted me into the LA community! Coming into to this league I told Robby, Jeanie and Magic that all I wanted to do here is help be apart of something special and help be apart one of those banners (now) 17 banners and dammit we did it! I wouldn’t change anything about my journey everything has been a lesson to me! Ive learned the game of basketball from some of the best players to ever do it on earth while being in LA and now it’s time for me to get out there and really spread my wings and be who I say I am….LUV LA I’m a laker for life”
The Lakers couldn’t have asked for more out of Kuzma these past four years. He entered the league as a scorer, and is his first two seasons, he showed off that skillset by averaging 17.3 points per game. But when Anthony Davis arrived and the Lakers needed him to adjust, Kuzma did so willingly. While Davis and LeBron James led the offense, Kuzma grew into a strong defender and excellent rebounder. He took pride in doing the little things champions need, and he was rewarded for that with a ring.
That ring will indeed make him a Laker for life. It represents sacrifices that many players never make. Kuzma did what it took to be the player the Lakers needed him to be. Now, in Washington, he can not only help impart those lessons on a young roster, but take the opportunity to become more of a scorer again. As he said, it’s time for him to spread his wings.