As the saying goes, there’s levels to this. However, Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma evidently didn’t get the message.
One of the league’s more scrutinized players, Kuzma has struggled to live up to the promise he flashed earlier in his career, let alone build upon it. While his production this season was slightly better than the year prior, he continued to put forth more than his fair share of uneven performances.
Far from a seamless fit alongside LeBron James and Anthony Davis, the Lakers appear willing to move on from the 25-year-old this offseason. Bleacher Report’s Jake Fischer has reported the team “continues to gauge rival teams’ interest” on the trade market.
The good news for potential Kuzma suitors, if you pull the trigger, you may just stumble upon the next Jayson Tatum. That is, at least in Kuzma’s eyes — reportedly.
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Kuzma Believes He’s on Jayson Tatum’s Level?
As Stephen A. Smith would so elegantly phrase it, such a belief would be rather blasphemous. Yet, according to Bleacher Report’s Eric Pincus, that’s exactly how Kuzma feels about his personal talent level.
“I think that Kyle Kuzma perceives himself as someone like Jayson Tatum,” Pincus said on a recent episode of the Lakerside Chats podcast. “I think that’s how he views himself. And that’s great. You should view yourself as one of the best young players in the league.”
For starters, Pincus makes a valid point, kudos to Kuzma for the confidence. However, now that we’ve gotten that out of the way, let’s dig into this outlandish take.
We have no issue with believing that Kuzma has been somewhat handicapped in the current role he’s been asked to assume in Los Angeles. Is he better than his 12.9 points per game output this season? Sure, you can certainly argue that. With that said, Jayson Tatum is a different animal. This is two-time All-Star Jayson Tatum we’re talking about. Team USA representative Jayson Tatum.
At just 23 years old, the St. Louis native averaged 26.4 points per game in 2020-21, while spearheading the Boston Celtics‘ offense. Despite excellent production, Tatum managed to elevate his play even further over the final two months of the C’s season (postseason and play-ins included), scoring 50-plus points on four separate occasions. The Duke product has future league MVP written all over him. And, if Kevin Durant’s take holds any weight, an MVP trophy may just be the tip of the iceberg for Tatum.
“I’ve been in the league for 13, 14 years, and I started to tally mark matchups and series and the players I’ve played against,” Durant said back in June on his podcast The ETCs with Kevin Durant following the Nets-Celtics playoff series. “When I have conversations with my friends I’m like ‘Oh, I’ve had playoff series against Kobe, LeBron, Tim Duncan, the Memphis Grizzlies,’ like — Jayson Tatum is in that conversation now because he’s that elite level of player already at 23 and I’m like ‘Alright, I can see where this is going.’”
The Internet Has a Field Day With Kuzma
As you could expect, such a wild comparison was going to draw a field day of criticism, hot takes and hilarious memes. Twitter certainly didn’t disappoint. Here’s a handful of the more entertaining takes: