Kuzma and Porzingis a unique shooting duo

Kristaps Porzingis, Washington Wizards

Soon after the Wizards traded for Kristaps Porzingis last Thursday, he got a call from Kyle Kuzma, who is expected to start alongside him in the Wizards' frontcourt.

While Porzingis will not debut for the Wizards until after the All-Star break due to a bone bruise in his right knee, the two are trying to get to know each other as people and as players. That included a discussion at Wednesday's shootaround in Indiana.

"I'm really just trying to get comfortable with him," Kuzma said. "I think before anything you have to have a certain type of friendship amongst each other, just to be able to talk, communicate and trust one another on the court. We're just getting to know each other."

When it comes to their fit on the court, one element stands out right away and that is the pure volume they like to shoot from 3-point range. In fact, they are poised to shoot more threes as a big man duo than any other pairing in the NBA.

Porzingis so far this season has averaged 5.1 3-point attempts per game, holding the same number for his entire career. Kuzma, meanwhile, is taking 5.6 attempts per game from long range.

There are only five players in the league this season who are 6-foot-10 or taller and attempt at least five threes per game. The Wizards now have two of them.


The sheer quantity of threes coming from the Wizards' starting big men is going to help dictate the style they employ on offense. If they can shoot them at a reasonable percentage, it could lead to a lot of space on the floor. So far this season, both Kuzma (33.8%) and Porzingis (28.3%) have seen their 3-point percentages drop from last year.

Putting them together in the same lineup could lead to a few different scenarios. Perhaps some redundancy will require an adjustment, which could play into Porzingis' favor. He said during his introductory press conference he wouldn't mind operating more around the rim after taking lots of threes in Dallas.

But it could also emerge as a considerable strength. Not only do Kuzma and Porzingis shoot threes and, historically, make them fairly often, they can also create off the dribble. The upside is there for them to become a difficult duo for opposing teams to stop. 

The other side of the coin is how their teammates may be able to capitalize on the space they are likely to provide. In the short term, that could lead to more dribble drives from point guards Raul Neto and Ish Smith.

Rui Hachimura is adept at scoring in the midrange and around the rim and is emerging as a catch-and-shoot 3-point threat. If Bradley Beal returns next season, he could be an ideal complement to two shooting bigs as one of the NBA's better isolation players and a guy who this year carried a career-high average of 6.6 assists per game. 

Having a four and a five that can make threes also creates the possibility of entire lineups of 3-point threats. The Wizards make the fewest threes of any team in the league this season (10.1/g), so they may not have the personnel at the moment, but could make that a goal going into next year. 

There's no guarantee Kuzma and Porzingis will prove to be a great fit, as they have to get on the floor together first. But they are likely to be a one-of-one combination in the context of the league, which could be a nice change of pace for the Wizards given their struggles with outside shooting this season.