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Lakers’ Frank Vogel hopes to have Kyle Kuzma back in the lineup Sunday vs. Nuggets

Frank Vogel, Kyle Kuzma, Lakers, Nuggets

It has been a roller-coaster ride for Kyle Kuzma during his third season as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers, and after having missed each of the team’s past five games due to a left ankle injury, head coach Frank Vogel hopes to have the forward back for Sunday’s contest versus the Denver Nuggets.

A major hurdle in getting Kuzma back in the mix will be getting him through a practice Saturday so that the team can feel confident in deploying him off the bench. He will miss Thursday’s game versus the Milwaukee Bucks with the ailment, marking his ninth absence of the season.

After a breakout second season last year, Kyle Kuzma has seen his role in the Los Angeles offense crater in 2019-20. He averaged 15.5 shot attempts per game last season that led to 18.7 points per game; in 20 games with the Lakers in the current campaign, he has got 9.4 shots on a nightly basis for an average of 11.1 PPG.

One of the few young Lakers to remain with the franchise in the wake of the Anthony Davis swap with the New Orleans Pelicans over the summer, the organization still holds high hopes for Kuzma, who was a first-round pick in the 2017 NBA Draft.

Without him in the mix, Vogel has relied upon veteran Jared Dudley to get extended minutes at the forward spot off the bench. Presumably, Kuzma will be eased back into the mix, as he will be integral to the team’s second unit down the stretch.