The Los Angeles Lakers have had at least two players injured dating back to the Nixon administration. Okay maybe that isn’t actually true (the trend actually predates Nixon), but it definitely feels that way. Kyle Kuzma is the latest victim of the injury bug, but it appears he’s making enough progress to at least return this season.
Kuzma tested his ankle at practice Monday and Luke Walton offered up an update on the second-year small forward:
Kyle Kuzma (sprained ankle) went through a full practice today, Luke Walton said. Probably good for tomorrow’s game in Chicago.— Mike Bresnahan (@Mike_Bresnahan) March 11, 2019
He’ll be joined on the team’s injury report by a couple of teammates, because of course:
Tyson Chandler, Kyle Kuzma and Lance Stephenson are once again questionable for tomorrow's game.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) March 11, 2019
So for those keeping track at home, the Lakers (who are already missing Lonzo Ball and Brandon Ingram due to injuries, and several other veterans due to apathy) might be down yet another useful NBA player. Kuzma will have to suit up, or else at this point the Lakers might be left to ask fans to come down from the stands to play alongside the South Bay Lakers.
For Kuzma, playing would be quite the opportunity, as there will be plenty of extra shots to go around. That said, the top priority now — and moving forward for the rest of the season — will be to make sure he gets and remains healthy. This offseason is going to be crucial. From a development aspect, there are aspects of the game he has to get better at (namely shooting and defense). If the Lakers strike out in free agency, they can’t have him injured in trade negotiations. There just isn’t any reason to rush him back at this stage of the season.
If Kuzma is healthy, it’s pretty important that he and the remaining Lakers finish with at least some momentum. The Lakers are going to be trying to convince stars to try to join them this summer. Tanking aside, organizationally, they lack the culture needed to be sustainably successful. If they really want to build that, they’ll need as many helpful parts of the rotation healthy as they can get to try and build some momentum.