Kyle Kuzma Injury: Latest Updates & Status on Lakers Forward

Kyle Kuzma Lakers

Getty Kyle Kuzma of the Los Angeles Lakers looks on during the second half against the Boston Celtics.

After the Lakers were hit with a bad case of the injury bug last season, fans had a right to be nervous after news broke that new big man, DeMarcus Cousins, had gone down with a season-ending knee injury before the season even started.

While Kyle Kuzma didn’t suffer nearly as serious of an injury as Cousins, his recovery timeline remains in question as the team approaches a crucial training camp. With so many new faces and a pair of superstars who need to learn to share the court with one another, having a crucial puzzle piece like Kuzma on the shelf hurts the entire squad.

Kyle Kuzma Injury: Latest Updates & Status on Lakers Forward

The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported that Kuzma’s ankle recovery was coming along slower than expected and that he may wind up missing the start of Lakers’ training camp. The Lakers break camp on Saturday, September 28th and according to Stein, there is a mounting fear that he won’t be good to go.

The bigger fear is that Kuzma’s injury lingers and that he struggles to get back to being fully healthy. His spot in the rotation shouldn’t be going anywhere and the primary concern for both Kuzma and the franchise should be to get him back to full health before dealing with anything.

He suffered the injury while working towards a spot on the USA Basketball Team and was widely expected to make the roster and play a large role off the bench. Team USA struggled in the absence of Kuzma as they lacked high-level scorers outside of Kemba Walker and Jayson Tatum. Kuzma showed off an improved deep ball in his limited exhibition minutes as well as increased awareness on the defensive end – two skills that should be hugely beneficial to the Lakers’ 2019-20 campaign.

Kuzma dealt with another ankle injury, albeit to the other ankle, last season and was forced to miss some time towards the end of the season.

Kyle Kuzma’s 2019-2020 Season Outlook

As mentioned above, Kyle Kuzma showed significant improvement on both ends of the floor during his exhibition games for USA Basketball. Kuzma put in considerable work with his jump shot this summer, refining his stroke to be quicker and more easily repeatable. With the help of famed shooting coach, Lethal Shooter, Kuzma was consistently knocking down deep balls for USA Basketball, going 4-5 from long range in USA’s win over Australia.

Defensively, Kuzma seemed much more comfortable making reads in pick and roll situations, specifically in the Australia game against a number of NBA veterans. He seems to have added some more muscle while maintaining his solid athleticism. As a power forward, Kuzma has been quick enough to hang with nearly anyone he’s matched up against yet has struggled to provide much resistance as a defender in the low post. While it remains to be seen how his added muscle helps him in this regard, at the very least it looks like he has refined his ability to make smart defensive reads.

Should Kuzma show his improvements can translate over to the NBA, the Lakers will have themselves an incredibly versatile sixth man capable of providing a mismatch at either forward position. If the Lakers wanted to throw things back to head coach Frank Vogel’s Pacer days, they could theoretically start Kuzma at shooting guard and go with a towering lineup of at least four players 6’8″ or taller – though that seems fairly unlikely at the time of this writing.