I thought Kuzma needed to play efficiently over the next five games in order to give room for Tommy to resign Kuz. What did he give us over those five games? A game winner, a 40-piece, a stinker against GSW that will not be mentioned, and a good one-two punch performance with Rui last night that I was able to personally attend. So who is Kuz? He is up and down, but overall a great player for the team.
Using an old but good measure of efficiency (EFF), Kuz was 14, 38, 10, 30, 26. What does that mean? Giannis averages a 31.1 EFF for the season. So 30+ EFF games are pretty good. He had three good games and two stinkers. His first stinker, happened to be a game winner against Chicago. Kuz also shoots crazy half court shots, which you would think might skew the numbers a bit. Against New York he was 1/3 for those. Oddly enough, he also shot 33% from 3 point range that game, so right on par for that night. I don't think it's statistically significant enough. He can also just stop shooting them to make his numbers look better. I'm guessing shooting percentage isn't in the contract, but it's still a contract year, so hats off to him for going for the win above stats.
Another interest thing about Kuz. His PER vs EFF is dramatically inconsistent. By his PER measure, he is just about an average player. But looking at his EFF (taken from season leaders on Nba.com a/o 1/22), Kuz if 41st in EFF. Making him a top 50 player in the league. KP is 24th in the league. This is where the eye test and the stats converge. Because by the eye test, Kuz is not just an average player. And a solid look at the good old, simple, EFF says the exact same thing . . . not an average player. In fact, one of the best in the league.
Beal doesn't qualify for nba.com's rankings because of injury. But if he qualified, his EFF would be 21.8, placing him tied for 30 with Jrue Holiday. So what does all this mean? It means we have 3 top 50 players in the league on our team. And when they've all played, we've had success. Why would we want to trade one of those? Especially, if Kuz's mom is correct and he wants to be here in DC.
But what about Rui? Because he's coming off the bench, it's best to look at his "per 48 EFF". Rui is roughly a 22 (again, didn't qualify because of injury) compared with Kuz's 27.8. This is where the eye test and the stats converge again. Kuz is a better player today than Rui. But Rui is ascending and is ready to start. I hope he stays, but Kuz is the more important piece to keep.
Kuz is option 3 based on efficiency. But the man is clutch. So his usage has to reflect both of those realities. When Kuz is hot, he is unstoppable. But he has drop offs at times, and when he is cold, his teammates have to step in and he has to be willing to take a step back. When the man is hot though, play through him. He transitions to an option 1/2, especially in clutch moments. The team should embrace those moments when Kuz can close us out. And if no one else has it going in the closing moments, give clutch Kuz a try. Last night he got us going and Rui closed it out, Beal got everyone easy open looks and a tip of the hat for excellent playmaking. I see you real deal Beal!