After bowing out of USA Basketball training camp all the way back in August with an injury to his foot, Kyle Kuzma missed the entirety of the preseason as well as the first four games of the Lakers’ 3-1 start. However, Kuzma finally received some good news in the form of a concrete timeline of just exactly when he will be able to suit up for the purple and gold.
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Kyle Kuzma Injury Update: Lakers’ Forward Expected Return Date Set
Set for a return on Friday night against the Dallas Mavericks, Kuzma provides a much-needed scoring punch off the bench and looks to slot in as the Lakers’ sixth man. While he functions best with a true facilitator on the offensive end, he should still provide a positive impact until Rajon Rondo returns and presumably takes his spot leading the second unit.
Kuzma has strong natural chemistry with LeBron James and should be a staple of lineups when Anthony Davis inevitably needs some rest. Moreover, his ability to competently play either forward spot should be hugely beneficial. This allows the Lakers of a uniquely dangerous situation in which they could theoretically always have two of James, Davis, or Kuzma on the floor at all times.
Lakers vs Mavericks Preview
With Kuzma back in the lineup for the Lakers on Friday, they should fare significantly better against an exciting Mavericks team. With Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis dominating early on, the Lakers face another stiff challenge early on in the season. Doncic has only improved his all-around game since his fantastic rookie campaign while Porzingis looks to be the dominant two-way force he was prior to his injury.
The Lakers will need a strong performance from their bench against the Mavericks as while Dallas is dangerous, they are extremely top-heavy. The Lakers’ bench has been streaky to start the year and has seen the bulk of their actual production come late in garbage time. With the exception of Dwight Howard, there hasn’t been a consistent threat off the bench yet. This is an area the Lakers hope Kuzma is able to help address immediately and he should be expected to get plenty of looks despite what will almost certainly be limited minutes as the Lakers look to ease him back.
The Mavericks lack effective size outside of Porzingis so it seems Dwight could be in line for yet another strong performance with the second unit. Assuming Frank Vogel doesn’t throw a curveball and opt to start him, expect Dwight to continue his role as the one positive constant on the Laker bench. Howard’s transformation has been nothing short of spectacular through four games as the former pariah has now been embraced by the Laker fans for his team-first attitude and gritty on-court play. A true turnaround of his career and public image, Howard looks to be one of the best value-signings of the offseason on his non-guaranteed minimum deal.