With the 2019-20 NBA season underway, the Los Angeles Lakers are 2-1 through three games but are still without Kyle Kuzma, who is currently recovering from a stress reaction.
As Kuzma continues to make progress, his health and eventual return are extremely important to the team’s chances of making the 2020 NBA playoffs and winning it all.
Although the Lakers have won since Opening Night against the Los Angeles Clippers, Kuzma’s improved all-around game should help Los Angeles take that next step.
After the Memphis Grizzlies game, the Lakers will embark on their first road trip and it is possible Kuzma could make his debut, according to Mike Trudell of Lakers.com:
Vogel said they don’t have a specific game in mind for Kuzma’s return, though he continues to ramp things up. He remains out tonight, but will be on the upcoming 3-game road trip (Nov. 1, 3 and 5 are the games). There’s a possibility that he could play on the trip, per Vogel.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) October 29, 2019
And with the Lakers not practicing on Oct. 30, Kuzma reportedly will work out with the South Bay Lakers before the trip, according to Tania Ganguli of Los Angeles Times:
Some minor news on the Kyle Kuzma front: the plan is for him to practice with the South Bay Lakers tomorrow (Los Angeles Lakers are off) as he works toward returning to the court. He's going on the road trip and the Lakers are hoping to get him back during it.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) October 30, 2019
As the final member of the team’s young core, there is a lot of pressure on Kuzma to develop into their third All-Star player. Fortunately, former president of basketball operations Magic Johnson believes Kuzma’s work ethic will take pressure off LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
While it was a small sample size, Kuzma showed his improvements with Team USA. Along with a consistent shooting form, his decision making also improved.
When Kuzma returns, it is likely he will become the team’s sixth man to keep Anthony Davis playing most of his minutes at power forward. However, similar to Lamar Odom‘s stint with the Lakers, it would not be surprising if he still played significant minutes and even finished games.
Along with Kuzma, Vogel is still without Rajon Rondo, who is still dealing with strained calf injury. Although there are debates about Rondo’s role when he returns, Vogel does value him as another playmaker outside of James.