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Kyle Kuzma available to play vs. Mavs

Lakers, Kyle Kuzma

Los Angeles Lakers wing Kyle Kuzma is available to play this afternoon against the Dallas Mavericks after suffering a mild ankle sprain in the third quarter of L.A.’s win over Washington on Friday:

Kuzma did not practice on Saturday, but he apparently feels good enough to give it a go as the Lakers prepare to host a Mavs squad that has won six of their last seven.

The 24-year-old is slowly working his way back from a foot injury that caused him to miss the entire preseason. In 15 games, Kuzma is averaging 11.7 points and 3.6 rebounds while adjusting to a new role as the Lakers’ sixth man.

Kuzma is averaging just under 23 minutes per game, and he is also averaging six fewer shots per contest. While the Lakers run their offense through LeBron James and Anthony Davis, Kuzma is now relied upon more to heat things up off the bench.

One of the other reasons for the decline in playing time likely stems from Kuzma’s struggles on the defensive side of the floor. Head coach Frank Vogel prides himself on assembling tough rotations and he often goes big because of the versatility of guys like LeBron and AD. Kuzma is tied with Quinn Cook and Troy Daniels for the worst defensive rating on the Lakers, according to Basketball-Reference.

This was always going to be a different kind of year for Kuzma. He went from being one of the focal points on a roster that was supposed to be geared towards the younger players, to one of those youngsters that now has to play third-fiddle on a team that relies on their veteran presence.Still, Kuzma is undoubtedly invaluable to the Lakers for his scoring ability.

Los Angeles will look to increase their winning streak to 16 games on Sunday.