The Los Angeles Lakers were shellacked right from the start against the Minnesota Timberwolves, but things looked set to be uglier than any deficit could be when standout rookie forward had to leave the game to head to the locker room with a then-unidentified injury.
While Kuzma soon returned to the bench and even played more of the game, he finished with six points on 2-of-7 shooting in another off-night for the high-scoring shooter. The six points marked a season-low for Kuzma.
Kuzma told reporters after the Lakers’ loss that he was again kneed in the quad. He also detailed why the NBA schedule makes it tougher to recover from an injury than when he was in college, and added he’s uncertain if he’ll play Wednesday, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:
“In college, you play two games a week. Injuries can go away quicker because you have time to relax a little bit. Here, you have a game every other night, so you really just have to tough it out or sit. … We’ll see, we’ll see. Back-to-backs, just try to get in the ice bath, try to stretch, try to get massages, do anything to try to get my body ready for games.”
The NBA is a grind for every rookie, but Kuzma might be experiencing it more than most. He ranks fourth on the Lakers in minutes per game with 32.1, but he’s also played the second-most minutes of anyone on the team (1,122) due to him playing in 35 of the Lakers’ 36 games so far.
That type of run is a good thing for Kuzma’s long-term future because it means he’s being allowed to go out and make mistakes and get some real learning opportunities. But it’s also going to take it’s toll right now and it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Lakers play it safe with such a critical piece of their young core by not playing Kuzma against the Oklahoma City Thunder.
As long as the Lakers are careful about not letting Kuzma overextend himself, then his heavy workload will still be a positive going forward, even if it’s tough at time this season.
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