Since the 2019-20 NBA season opener loss to the Los Angeles Clippers, the Los Angeles Lakers have rebounded with three consecutive home wins at the Staples Center.
While the Lakers do have a soft start to the schedule, they have a new coaching staff and roster (nine new players) as Kyle Kuzma is working himself back from a foot injury.
With Kuzma ramping up his basketball activities, head coach Frank Vogel shared the 24-year-old could potentially make his debut during the team’s three-game road trip.
Although the Lakers did not practice, Kuzma still took a positive step as he was assigned to the South Bay Lakers so he could practice on rehab assignment on Oct. 30:
Kyle Kuzma was assigned to South Bay so he could practice with them on rehab assignment today. He'll be re-assigned to the #Lakers immediately after practice.
— Matthew Moreno (@MMoreno1015) October 30, 2019
While no details emerged from Kuzma’s rehab assignment, he reportedly will make his debut against the Dallas Mavericks, according to Shams Charania of The Athletic:
Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma will make his season debut on Friday against the Mavericks in Dallas, league sources tell @TheAthleticNBA @Stadium. Positive sign, as Kuzma will be eased back into Lakers rotation.
— Shams Charania (@ShamsCharania) October 30, 2019
Considering Kuzma’s injury, he was listed as day-to-day, but it was unclear when he would return. However, he has made great progress and may only miss the first four games.
As the Lakers have played well since their first loss, Kuzma does address some of their weaknesses. While it was a small sample size, he showed a more consistent shooting form and better decision making overall with Team USA.
With Vogel currently trying out different lineups, it is fair to assume Kuzma will likely be the team’s sixth man since they want to limit Anthony Davis‘ minutes at center for now.
Despite the role change from his first two seasons, it would not be surprising to see Kuzma still playing significant minutes and finishing games coming off the bench.
While this would be a major adjustment for most players, Kuzma understands how important he is to the team’s chances of winning it all in the 2020 NBA Finals.