Kyle Kuzma never thought Lakers would miss the playoffs, blames injury woes
Heading into this season, a lot of people had high expectations for the Los Angeles Lakers. After all, they just signed four-time MVP LeBron James to a four-year deal. Several analysts believe they would be one of the best teams in the West, with some even predicting they would reach the conference finals with the three-time champion now on board.
Early in the season, they were starting to live up to the hype. In December, they were the fourth best team in the West with a 20-14 record, and they also beat the two-time defending champion Golden State Warriors in a Christmas Day showdown. Unfortunately for the Purple and Gold, their success would also stop there.
Following their victory over the Dubs, LeBron and veteran playmaker Rajon Rondo would miss an entire month due to various injuries. The Lakers were 5-12 during their absence, and 6-13 since their return.
The Lakers were officially eliminated from the playoffs two days ago after losing 111-106 to the Brooklyn Nets.
After that game, sophomore forward Kyle Kuzma said in an interview with reporters that he didn’t expect the team to miss the playoffs, and blamed the injuries for their underachievement this season.
“I wouldn’t imagine not making the playoffs (at the beginning of the season),” Kyle Kuzma said, per Christian Rivas of Silver Screen & Roll.
“We got derailed by a lot of injuries, and that pretty much sums up our season. At one point we were holding our heads high, in a great position, and that bug just came in and hurt us.”
Aside from James and Rondo, the Lakers also saw Lonzo Ball went down with an ankle sprain that would lead to him being shut down for the remainder of the season. Brandon Ingram, who has been phenomenal last month, has been diagnosed with a blood clot in his arm and has also been shut down for the remaining games. He underwent successful surgery to remove said clot.
Although they have been disappointing this year, expectations will be much, much higher for the Lakers next season. They are expected to once again get one of the top 10 picks in the draft, and they have enough cap space to sign one more player to a max deal.
This coming offseason will be crucial for the Los Angeles franchise moving forward, and they will have to do things right.