Ex-Lakers Making Early Hay for East-Leading Wizards

Kyle Kuzma Wizards

Getty Washington Wizards big man Kyle Kuzma celebrates a made basket during a game against the Indiana Pacers.

Getting Russell Westbrook to the West Coast was no small feat for the Los Angeles Lakers. The big trade that brought him over from the Washington Wizards cost Rob Pelinka and the Lakers three quality players in Montrezl Harrell, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma.

Whether or not the Westbrook experience is worth the price of admission remains to be seen. Things don’t look great at the moment, though, as the former NBA MVP is posting an effective field goal percentage in the mid-40s and averaging 6.0 turnovers per contest.

Meanwhile, the former Lakers trio is balling out in the District of Columbia.

Kuz, Trez and KCP Are Partying Like It’s 2014

After playing into the eighth seed on the Eastern Conference playoff table last season and getting dropped in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers, the Wizards are off to a surprising 4-1 start in 2021-22. It’s Washington’s best effort through five games since the 2014-15 campaign.

For frame of reference, the Wiz rolled out a starting five of John Wall, Garrett Temple, Paul Pierce, Nenê and Marcin Gortat in most of those games.

Along the way, the former Lakers — and Spencer Dinwiddie — have seemingly given Bradley Beal his best backing crew since he became the Wizards’ top dog a few years back. When the three-time All-Star has struggled in the past, Washington really hasn’t had a lot of other options. This year, though, he has yet to fire on all cylinders and the team is still soaring.

In a 122-111 win over the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday, Harrell, Kuzma and Pope all joined Beal in scoring 20 or more points in the game. The trio also contributed 29 rebounds, seven assists and five steals. But the contest was hardly an outlier; here is what the Ex-Lakers have done so far:

Harrell: 19.2 PPG, 9.4 RPG, 66.1 FG%
Kuzma: 15.2 PPG, 11.0 RPG, 1.4 SPG
Pope: 11.0 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 50.0 3Pt%

For his part, Kuzma isn’t about to rest on his laurels, though. “It’s a good start, but in all reality it doesn’t mean anything,” he said via NBC Sports Washington. “You can start off 4-1, 5-1 and you see teams all the time start out hot and then they just fall to the ground.”

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Vogel, Lakers Have Special Film Session

To say that the Lakers have been a little off on the defensive end doesn’t quite capture the moment. Entering Friday night’s bout with the Cleveland Cavaliers, Los Angeles ranks 25th league-wide with a defensive rating of 111.4. In an attempt to help his team reverse its fortunes, Lakers coach Frank Vogel held a special gameday film session.

“We’re trying to build our culture,” Vogel said of the extra session. “Our culture and our success has been centered around elite playmakers with 3-point shooting and lob spacing support, and elite defense. And the elite defense part is not there yet.”


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