Despite a tough loss to the Clippers in the season opener, the Lakers look to bounce back against the Utah Jazz in their home opener. Featuring star third-year guard Donovan Mitchell alongside a stout defense led by DPOY Rudy Gobert, the Jazz pose a daunting matchup and head into the season with expectations for nothing less than a deep playoff run.
The Lakers have similar expectations for their team led by a duo of elite superstars. Despite not making the playoffs since Dwight Howard‘s first tenure in 2013, Laker fans are looking at an NBA championship as a very real possibility.
The matchup should serve as a great test for both squads, the Lakers in particular. With so many fresh faces, the game against another playoff contender should help shed more light into if the opening night debacle was a one-off or actually part of a larger issue.
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Los Angeles Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup vs. Utah Jazz
Kyle Kuzma Injury Update
Still injured and ruled out early for the Lakers’ game against the Jazz, it seems we are at least getting close to a Kyle Kuzma return. Cleared for basketball activities earlier in the week and clearly going near full speed in drills, Kuzma’s return is one that should be greatly anticipated for the Lakers. Especially considering the struggles the first unit had offensively in the opener, Kuzma’s ability to score at all three levels should be a huge boost.
Kuzma has dropped hints on Twitter that a return is coming soon, though at this time we still don’t have any concrete ideas what his anticipated target date could be. He does seem fairly close to being back to full strength so don’t be shocked to see the Lakers’ potentially start integrating him back into the lineup as early as the next few weeks. Expected to serve as a sixth man behind both James and Davis at the two forward spots, Kuzma should still find himself playing his usual workload – around 30 minutes per game.
Kuzma sustained his injury at USA Basketball training camp where he had been experiencing a breakout offseason before going down with his injury. Expected to make the roster and be a key contributor for Team USA prior to his injury, Kuzma wound up being the team’s final cut. While disappointing we never got to see Kuz show out on the international stage, it seems that his injury – a stress reaction in his foot – was caught early enough to the point where he was able to avoid going on the shelf for months. Though unfortunate he isn’t able to suit up to start the season, it seems things could have been much worse.