One thing that really stood out when the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks Thursday night was how small they are on the perimeter outside of LeBron James and Danny Green while Kyle Kuzma is out.
Jared Dudley was flatly played off the court in that game, which meant that Frank Vogel had to hope the size advantage wouldn’t be too much to overcome. In the end, it was, but according to Vogel, help just might be on the way:
Kyle Kuzma remains out tonight, but Vogel said he’s hopeful that Kuz - who’s been ramping up activity with the sore ankle - can get a practice in on Saturday and ideally play on Sunday at home.— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) December 19, 2019
After the game, Vogel acknowledged how Kuzma’s absence has been felt (via Spectrum SportsNet):
“No doubt. We definitely missed Kyle tonight, and really on this whole trip.”
While Dudley uses his veteran understanding of the game to get the most out of what he has to offer physically, in a game like last night’s, it’s just too obvious how far behind he is athletically. And while Kuzma has his own warts, when defenses close out hard to him, he’s at least still a threat to do something with the advantage he gains.
Even while guys like Avery Bradley, Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are all much better defensively than Kuzma, you can’t teach size, and Kuzma’s length helps him on both ends of the court.
It’s still relatively unknown what kind of player they’ll be getting once Kuzma makes his return. At times, he’s looked something close to the player the Lakers swear he is. At others, he’s looked completely lost. The Lakers need to find out at some point this season what exactly they have in Kuzma, or use his desirable contract situation to bring in immediate help.
None of that is really possible while he is sidelined, though, so first thing’s first is to get him back and 100% as soon as possible. If that’s indeed this weekend, then all the better.