Wizards' Kyle Kuzma has a surprisingly strong All-Star case
Kyle Kuzma Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

Wizards' Kyle Kuzma has a surprisingly strong All-Star case

With an 18-26 record and star Bradley Beal sidelined with injuries, the Wizards are unlikely to have a player chosen for the NBA All-Star Game on Feb. 19.

Kristaps Porzingis, who averages 22.2 points and 8.8 rebounds, seems like the Wizards' most likely candidate. But could forward Kyle Kuzma be a dark horse?

Kuzma is having the best season of his NBA career, averaging 21.6 points, 7.5 rebounds and 3.9 assists. He plays the most minutes per game on the team (35.3) and has the highest usage rate (27.2%). Plus, as seen here, he has delivered in the clutch.

Kuzma's underlying numbers are also good. In "real plus-minus," a statistic that attempts to measure a player's full impact on the court, Kuzma ranks 36th among all players. In win shares, according to ESPN, he ranks 14th.

On the Lakers from 2017-21, Kuzma looked promising at times but struggled to find his role after  LeBron James and Anthony Davis joined the team. Things got so bad that Lakers fans petitioned that Kuzma shouldn't receive a championship ring after Los Angeles won the 2020 NBA Finals.

Now, the tables have turned. Kuzma is thriving, while Russell Westbrook -- the player Kuzma was swapped for -- has underwhelmed in Los Angeles.

Kuzma is probably a long shot to be an All-Star. But the fact that he has a shot at all is a testament to his impressive season.

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