Before the 2020-21 NBA seasons started, fans, players and analysts all expressed concerns that a historically short offseason could lead to more injuries during the season, especially for teams that made deep playoff runs in the 2019-20 season like the Los Angeles Lakers and Miami Heat.
Unfortunately, those concerns turned out to be completely justified and last month, LeBron James called out the NBA for not listening to those warnings on Twitter. James’ teammate, Kyle Kuzma, supported his stance in a recent interview with Tyler Conway of Bleacher Report, but Kuzma doesn’t think that can be used as an excuse as to why a team underperformed:
Kuzma agrees with James’ assessment that the shortened offseason led to the barrage of injuries.
“If you look at all the teams that were in the bubble and played long, they had a lot of injuries,” Kuzma said. “Look at Denver with Murray, even looking at the Heat this year how many injuries they had, along with us, too. Having AD out, Bron out, [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] out a few games, [Alex] Caruso out a few games, a lot of people missed games, and I contribute that to the bubble.
“If you think about the injuries from a player’s perspective, it wasn’t enough time for players to get their bodies ready. But at the same time, you gotta go out and compete and take care of your body. I’m definitely not complaining; they pay us a lot of money to go out there and compete.”
Kuzma clearly did all he could to stay healthy in the offseason and during the season, as he only missed four games with an injury. That was the second-fewest games missed on the team behind Montrezl Harrell, who missed just three games.
Granted, there’s some luck involved in staying healthy, but obviously putting in the work off the court helps — just look at James, who’s playing at an elite level at the age of 36. That being said, there’s no denying that those little things are easier to do that with a full offseason and a normal regular season. Injuries are bound to happen regardless, but as we saw last season, a little time off doesn’t hurt.