As recently as just six months ago, most casual NBA fans didn’t know who Lakers rookie Kyle Kuzma was. While he made headlines after being included in a trade that sent D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov from Los Angeles to the Brooklyn Nets in exchange for Brook Lopez and a draft pick that ended up being Kuzma, the former Utah Utes star was relatively unknown heading into the 2017-18 NBA season, especially in comparison to his fellow Lakers rookie Lonzo Ball.
That all changed once the season started. Kuzma started logging serious minutes for the Lakers from pretty much the start, and while he’s endured his fair share of ups and downs as a rookie, he’s solidified himself as a legitimate Rookie of the Year candidate. Through the first 59 games of the regular season, the 22-year-old from Flint, Michigan has averaged 15.5 points, 5.8 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game while helping the young Lakers show some much-needed signs of life in the tough Western Conference. He’s been so good on the court that he’s even earned an impressive co-sign from Kobe Bryant.
But you could argue that Kuzma’s contributions off the court have been just as invaluable for the Lakers. Unlike some of the other young players on the team, including Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, Kuzma has shown that he has the potential to be a true superstar by assuming a strong presence and identity on social media. Part of that has been because he’s gotten into the habit of engaging in Twitter and Instagram wars with Ball, which has generated a lot of publicity for both of them. But part of it is also because Kuzma has demonstrated a real knack for showing off his personality on social media in a genuine way. Whether he’s cracking a joke at a teammate's expense or telling SLAM not to use an embarrassing photo of him in a tweet, like he did over this past weekend, Kuzma gets how to play the social media game like few others in the NBA.
Kuzma actually reminds us a lot of Joel Embiid in that regard. Back in July 2014, long before Embiid proved he could transform himself into one of the biggest stars in the NBA, we crowned him "the NBA’s Twitter MVP" because of how well he was using social media at the time. And while Kuzma still has a little bit of work to do before he can rightfully claim Embiid’s crown (Free tip, Kuz: Trying to holler at a pop star might help), we would say Kuzma is already well on his way to taking over the throne eventually. Let’s take a look at a few of his best social media moments thus far to show you what we mean.