After missing the first few games to start the season, Lakers‘ forward Kyle Kuzma was the recipient on a gnarly eye injury courtesy of Darius Bazely. After a slow start getting back into the swing of things, Kuzma’s scoring punch from the bench has been a huge boost for the Lakers. Functioning as the team’s de-facto sixth man, Kuzma is able to spell both LeBron James and Anthony Davis and allows the dropoff offensively to not be nearly as severe when one of the two superstars sits.
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Lakers’ Kyle Kuzma Leaves Game With a Bloody Eye [Watch]
Kuzma caught what initially looked to be an elbow from Bazely as the rookie attempted to go by Kuzma and drive to the basket. However, it seems that instead, Kuzma might have caught a finger to the eye. A finger to the eye that induces bleeding is far from ideal for Kuzma as he works to get back to full health and integrated into the Lakers lineup.
Kuzma was taken to the locker room and an update has yet to be announced on his status moving forward.
*Article Will Be Updated With New Information*
Update – 9:00 pm PT
Kyle Kuzma is back on the Lakers’ bench and listed as questionable.
Kyle Kuzma Starting to Heat Up on Lakers’ Bench
After a relatively slow start after being eased back into his minutes by head coach Frank Vogel, Kyle Kuzma has started to emerge as a dangerous bench weapon for the Lakers. Going for double-digit scoring efforts in his last five games with highs of 22 and 23 points, Kuzma’s presence helps take a massive load off the shoulders of James and Davis. With Kuzma able to carve up opposing teams’ second units, the Lakers have been able to fare a bit better when James/Davis (or both) sit – a major area of importance for the Lakers.
To start the season there was a massive discrepancy in the +/- numbers of the starters and bench unit for the Lakers. While a five-man group of LeBron James, Anthony Davis, Avery Bradley (get well soon), Danny Green, and JaVale McGee SHOULD outperform any other lineup the Lakers can run out, the bench found themselves routinely blowing strong runs started by the first unit early on.
With Kuzma and Rajon Rondo joining forces with Howard off the bench, the unit has looked considerably better over the past few games as the bench has done a much better job of at least treading water with the superstars off the court.
Kyle Kuzma should only improve in his role as the season goes on. He missed the entirety of training camp with his injury and was essentially thrown into the fire while learning to play a different role from the previous two seasons. While his minutes compared to the last two seasons have dropped slightly given his new role, he seems to be in a prime position to have the most efficient (and impactful) season of his career.