Kuzma thanks watching film for breakout scoring game


Kyle Kuzma has a saying that watching film gives you 'the answers to the test.' He learned during his days with the Los Angeles Lakers, playing with veterans like LeBron James, Rajon Rondo and others that watching film is paramount to long-term success in the NBA.

He says he watches every game he plays again the night of and then once more the morning after. Over the years, he's learned more and more in terms of what to watch for and how to apply it to his game.

On Tuesday against the Raptors, he was able to make two changes that worked. He wanted to adjust his footwork and do a better job playing off of starting guards Spencer Dinwiddie and Bradley Beal.

The result was Kuzma's best game of the preseason yet. After scoring 15 points and shooting 3-for-8 from three combined through the Wizards' first two exhibition games, he went off for a game-high 24 points on 6-for-8 from deep against Toronto. He spread it around evenly with 12 points in the first half and then 12 in the second.

"I think he got a lot of the same looks we've seen him take. They went in," head coach Wes Unseld Jr. said. "I think it's confirmation for him and also the other guys. We're doing the right things at times on offense. We're generating some quality looks. To see it go in today was good."

Kuzma may have had similar looks, but he made those shots in part because he focused more on driving through his shot with his legs. Kuzma tweaked his footwork over the summer as part of an effort to improve his shooting off the dribble, but after two games where he struggled, he decided to watch film of his games last season to go back to what worked for him in L.A.

When it comes to playing with Dinwiddie and Beal, he said it is a matter of figuring out how to complement them as ball-dominant guards. 

"Trying to fit in with guys like LeBron and [Anthony Davis], trying to figure that out, it's going to pay dividends for me in this type of situation," Kuzma said.

"Playing with two dynamic guards that have the ball in their hands a lot most of the game... I've just gotta be a little more aggressive from a catch-and-shoot standpoint. Those are two guys that have the ball in their hands the most."

It also helped for Kuzma that the Wizards did a better job as a team moving the ball and creating open shots. They shot 17-for-43 (39.5%) from three after making only five threes against the Knicks on Saturday. There were many threes that were set up by extra passes, including one in the first half by Deni Avdija to find Kuzma on the wing.

There are other areas the Wizards will look to improve moving forward, as they try to incorporate a host of new players. But Tuesday's performance by Kuzma was an indication of how they can make it work and get him going as one of the team's most talented scorers.

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