Though the Wizards put forth a respectable effort while missing Bradley Beal against the defending-champion Bucks on Tuesday night, few positives can be drawn out of what was ultimately their season-high sixth straight loss. Kyle Kuzma, though, highlighted something that could worth exploring further in the weeks and months to come.
When asked for something he would like to take away from the defeat, he pointed to the success he had on the floor with Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija, the Wizards' 2019 and 2020 first-round picks.
"Man, I really loved playing with Deni and Rui out there. I think that's one thing that really, really went well," Kuzma said.
"We were able just to switch and keep a body on [Khris] Middleton, keep a body on Jrue [Holiday] and keep a body on Giannis [Antetokounmpo] just with size. I thought that was good for us. Hopefully we can find a little cohesiveness, but I think that was good."
Kuzma and Avdija spent the first 16 minutes of the game subbing in and out for each other. But they were out there alongside Hachimura on two occasions; briefly in the second quarter and then for an extended run in the late third quarter into the fourth.
Lineups with those three on the floor outscored the Bucks 21-9 in 7:25 of floor time. Their best run was a 5:22 stretch beginning with 1:50 left in the third quarter. The Wizards went on a 19-7 run which culminated in them taking their first lead of the night on a Hachimura three with 8:35 left in the game.
The Bucks would later pull away, but Kuzma thinks there is potential in him, Hachimura and Avdija as a trio. The numbers back it up, albeit in a small sample size. The three have combined for a +10.4 net rating, including a 93.5 defensive rating in 34 minutes so far this season.
The sample size is small because Hachimura missed most of the year due to personal reasons. Tuesday was just his 11th game back.
But even though they haven't played together much, it makes sense why Kuzma would like the combination. All three range from 6-foot-8 to 6-foot-10 and are switchable defenders, able to guard multiple positions with length and speed.
Shooting should probably be a priority in building lineups around them, though those three could also offer a lot to like as a combination on offense. Their size and speed could lead to mismatches, especially in transition.
Kuzma had a big game against the Bucks with 25 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks. He had 12 points in the third quarter and was a key component in their second half run, which saw them take Milwaukee's lead down from 17 and then go ahead on Hachimura's three.
The Wizards have lost seven out of their last eight games and are searching for answers. But they might have something to build off of with the Kuzma-Hachimura-Avdija lineups, if you ask Kuzma.