With the exciting news that Kyle Kuzma is making his return to the Los Angeles Lakers against the Dallas Mavericks, the Lakers’ second unit gets a much-needed scoring boost. Coming off another win over the Memphis Grizzlies and moving to 3-1, the Lakers are already off to their best start since the 2010-2011 season.
Reintroducing Kuzma into the fold should only help bolster a second unit that aside from Dwight Howard, hasn’t provided too much consistent production until games are relatively out of hand. While the Lakers still need Rajon Rondo to come back from injury in order to function as the team’s secondary offensive creator, they have (at times) looked excellent this year and shown the potential to be an absolute force on both sides of the basketball.
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Los Angeles Lakers Roster & Starting Lineup
*Projected Lineup Based on Lakers’ Previous Starting Lineups, Lineup Will be Updated Upon Official Announcement*
Kyle Kuzma Set Minutes Limit Set in Return Against Mavericks
Head coach Frank Vogel not only confirmed that Kuzma would be back in action on Friday night but gave a concrete minute limit for Kuzma’s usage off the bench. When back at full health, Kuzma should likely see closer to 30 minutes per game though it makes sense as to why the Lakers want to ease him back in. Kuzma missed the entirety of training camp as well as the first four games of the season, missing out on nearly every valuable scrimmage at practice along the way. Though the team has yet to build strong chemistry, they at least have something so far and integrating Kuzma into the fold will almost certainly take a few games to completely figure out.
Once fully healthy, Kuzma should be expected to fill in as the team’s sixth man off the bench and draw the occasional spot start when LeBron or AD needs some rest. Though not in the starting lineup, Kuzma is undoubtedly one of the team’s five best players and should have a major contributing role. Kuzma’s absence was felt against the Clippers as the Laker bench folded and was unable to keep pace and will be felt against most other elite teams with a deep bench. With Kuzma (and eventually Rondo) back into the fold alongside Dwight Howard, the Lakers would have a second unit that on paper should be capable of holding its own even against the Clippers’ duo of Lou Williams and Montrezl Harrell.
The bench should be a key area of focus tonight as the Lakers have the ability to take advantage of what should be an overmatched second unit for the Mavericks. Though Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis have been a force in the starting lineup and the second unit has actually posted some respectable plus/minus numbers, they lack an interior force capable of besting Howard on the boards (due to Boban Marjonovic’s inactive streak) while the Lakers’ guards should provide solid resistance for the shooting of Seth Curry and Justin Jackson.