It was always going to be a tough hill to climb for the Los Angeles Lakers to defend their championship due to the short turnaround from the 2019-20 season.
The Lakers only had 71 days between winning the 2020 NBA Championship and the start of the 2020-21 season. Coincidence or not, Los Angeles saw several players go down to injuries and that eventually led to their downfall in the playoffs.
Kyle Kuzma only missed four games during the regular season but acknowledged that he felt the physical toll from last season this year. “I think it was a big impact for sure,” explained Kuzma. “I think we all kind of felt it during the year. Going through the year having soft-tissue injuries, having little nicks and bruises as you would any season, but a little bit more this season. Not really having an offseason. I think we only had 71 days to get ready for the season, but you got to think after winning a championship, most of us took time off because that was a long haul.
“A grueling three months and to ramp it back up really quick, I felt like that’s why you see a lot of little injuries that we had and some soft tissue with AD throughout the year, but I think a longer offseason will do us all well, especially for me. I haven’t had a nice, good offseason in two years. Getting injured and obviously last year, so it’s going to be well. It’s going to do well.”
Kuzma added that the season really felt like two wrapped up in one. “100 percent it did,” Kuzma said. “We really didn’t have a bunch of time off. This year really felt like playing two seasons. Playing from last season taking a two or three-month break off from obviously, COVID and the shutdown and getting into the bubble for three months and then resting for a month and a half and getting back into it.
“That’s not your typical NBA season, offseason schedule. It definitely felt long.”
The Lakers’ elimination from the postseason could be a blessing in disguise for Kuzma and the rest of the roster as they will finally get a chance to properly recover. It will also give players more of an opportunity to work on their games and Kuzma already knows he will be focusing on his handle.
Rest and relaxation are part of a normal offseason and the longer break will only benefit the Purple and Gold when the 2021-22 tips off.
Kuzma looking to improve handle in offseason
One thing that Kuzma plans to work on to improve this summer is his ball-handling.
“I’m just super, super excited for this summer. The No. 1 thing that can really help me is adding a handle to my game,” Kuzma said.
“I think that definitely limits me a little bit because I’ve shown great strides this year from a defensive standpoint making the right play. My playmaking has been better this year. I had a career year this year shooting from three. I think if I had a handle, it’s going to make everything come together and that’s the No. 1 thing that I’m really harping on this year.”
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