The Los Angeles Lakers just took two devastating losses back-to-back against the Dallas Mavericks and Milwaukee Bucks. Before last night’s game, the Lakers shared the top spot in the league with the Bucks, 24-4. Last night in a potential finals preview game, the Bucks defeated the Lakers, 111-104. They now solely leads the league with the best record, 25-4.
The Lakers have been missing one of their key players, Kyle Kuzma, as he has been out with a sprained ankle the past five consecutive games. According to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel revealed that he is hopeful that Kuzma will return this weekend.
“He’s ramping up his activity,” Vogel said per the Los Angeles Times. “We’re hopeful that, again, no timeline, we’re hoping he gets a full practice in on Saturday and could potentially be available on Sunday.”
During the Lakers-Bucks game it was clear that Los Angeles missed Kuzma, as the team needed more size on the perimeter. Per Spectrum Sports Net, Vogel acknowledged how the team was affected by the lack of Kuzma’s presence.
“No doubt. We definitely missed Kyle tonight, and really on this whole trip,” Vogel said.
Kuzma Rumored To Be Bad Fit in Vogel’s Lakers System
Kyle Kuzma was a first round draft pick in 2017 by the Brooklyn Nets, but in a draft-day trade was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers. Kuzma has been with the team ever since. In order to get Anthony Davis this season, the Lakers let go of a handful of their roster but kept Kuzma because of his scoring abilities. So far though, Kuzma’s stats have proven otherwise. He is currently averaging 11.1 points, 3.4 boards and .9 assists a game this season.
According to rumors that ESPN insider Brian Windhorst spilled on an episode of “The Bill Simmons Podcast,” Vogel isn’t too fond of the 6’8″ forward.
“This is why I think Kuzma is struggling,” Windhorst said per Lakers Daily. “People are talking about Kuzma’s stats, his most important stat is his minutes played. Because Vogel doesn’t think he’s a good fit. If you look at the history of LeBron the last 12 years, two kinds of people have played with LeBron as complementary pieces: shooters and defenders.”
Kuzma has also battled multiple injuries this year. He was out for the beginning of this season as he endured a stress reaction in his foot during his time with Team USA in July and he also suffered an eye abrasion earlier this year. Most recently, Kuzma sprained his ankle on Nov. 29 against the Washington Wizards. Since then, the team has been monitoring him on a day-to-day basis.
Despite his stats and Windhorst’s comments, Kuzma still has time to prove his doubters wrong. Hopefully he will be able to get back on the court during the Lakers’ next game against the Nuggets. The Nuggets currently place third in the Western Conference with an 18-8 record while the Lakers lead the Western Conference with a 24-5 record. Tip-off is on Sunday night at 6:30 p.m. PST.