Kyle Kuzma's stock has fallen too far this year for the Cavaliers
As the 2023 free agency came, the Cavaliers were linked to a plethora of wings and forwards. Kyle Kuzma was one of the top names on that list, with confirmed interest from Cleveland in the former NBA Champion.
Before the Cavaliers could negotiate a deal with Kuzma, he signed a lucrative contract with his current team in the Washington Wizards, but Kuzma nevertheless seemed like an ideal trade candidate once he became eligible. For all intents and purposes, Kuzma could have been the answer the Cavs needed if he were playing at his best. Instead, though, the current version of Kuzma has seemingly no desire in playing to win.
This year has been nothing short of embarrassing as Kuzma and his new teammate Jordan Poole play with no concern for winning or team chemistry. Kuzma is scoring a career high 22.8 points per game, but his 124 defensive rating per 100 possessions showcase how little production he is offering as a two-way threat. Kuzma has never been a league-best defender, but his current rating is by far the worst of his career as the second best player on one of the worst teams in the NBA.
Further, Kuzma has never been a lethal threat from deep. With a career 33.9 percent from 3-point range, he forces defenses to watch him on an extra swing pass, but he is not a true floor stretcher in the way the Cavaliers would hope to find in a trade.
Claiming any NBA talent is only capable of "empty stats" is pitiful analysis, especially for a player in Kuzma who played a significant role in the Los Angeles Lakers' 2020 NBA Championship. The issues with Kuzma are not in his skillset or value, though. Kuzma's flaws start with his effort and willingness to choose a heavily contested jumpshot rather than pass it out to an open teammate since joining the Wizards.
This season Kuzma has especially regressed in his winning mentality, a trait the Cavaliers simply do not have time to course correct for him in the middle of the regular season. Following Kuzma, the Cavaliers need to stay wary of this veteran center on a imminently rebuilding division rival.