The Los Angeles Lakers finally parted ways with the last of their young core after including Kyle Kuzma in the trade package for Russell Westbrook.
Kuzma was the longest-tenured player on the team prior to his departure. He played an integral role in helping to turn the franchise around en route to securing a title during an unprecedented 2019-2020 campaign.
The former 27th overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft played with his fair share of high-profile teammates as a result of joining the Purple and Gold to start his career. So it may come as a bit of a surprise to see there was one that was head and shoulders above them all.
Kuzma made it clear that Jared Dudley was by far the best teammate he had in L.A during a Twitter Q&A:
Duds and it’s not even close. https://t.co/5t8DRv9YsQ
— kuz (@kylekuzma) August 8, 2021
Many may have assumed that LeBron James or Anthony Davis would have at least given some competition. However, Kuzma’s comments are indicative of the kind of impact the veteran had on the young players during a turning point in their careers.
Dudley was credited with taking on a leadership role within the locker room when it came to taking players under his wing. He was Kuzma’s strongest supporter when it came to the challenge of making strides in his growth.
The changes in the lineup last year called for returning players to take on different roles during the team’s title defense. Even if Kuzma’s shooting woes became evident, he was still able to make his presence felt on defense and the boards.
Although Kuzma may be gone, it remains to seen if Dudley’s time with the Lakers has come to an end. The team is running out of roster spots, but it would not be too far-fetched to see if they look to stick with the veteran movement by keeping him around.
Kyle Kuzma thanks Lakers organization
Kuzma’s career got off to a hot start in L.A. and there were high hopes for his growth into a potential third option. Unfortunately, his inconsistent play started to draw stark criticism from fans after signing a three-year, $39 million extension.
Despite his stint coming to an unceremonious end, Kuzma still posted a heartfelt farewell to Lakers Nation on his Instagram account.
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