Kyle Kuzma shoots a hook shot at practice at the UCLA Health Training Center on Dec. 1, 2017.
(Ty Nowell/Lakers.com)

Kuzma Returns to Practice, Wins Rookie of the Month

by Joey Ramirez
Digital Reporter

Friday was full of good news for Kyle Kuzma.

Not only was he named Western Conference Rookie of the Month; he was also able to practice after missing the last game due to back spasms.

Kuzma also did not practice on Thursday, instead undergoing an MRI that returned negative. He is considered questionable for Saturday’s game at Denver.

Kuzma’s ailment began shortly before Wednesday’s game against Golden State.

“In my pregame shootaround time, I came off a screen just to get into my shot,” Kuzma said at Friday’s practice. “And it kind of just popped a little bit. Just didn’t feel right.”

His back continued to tighten up in the locker room, and Kuzma missed his first game of the year.

Head coach Luke Walton said the team was going to limit him at Friday’s practice. But he moved well during a session of running and spot shooting with the training staff, and was cleared for some contact drills.

“If he is able to move tomorrow like he was able to move today, then we’ll play him,” Walton said.

Having Kuzma back in the rotation would certainly be a boost to the Lakers’ chances.

Just the second Rookie of the Month recipient in franchise history, the 22-year-old leads the Lakers in scoring (16.7) and 3-point percentage (37.9).

Those marks rank second and third among rookies, respectively. He is also third among first-year players in field goal percentage (50.4) and fifth in rebounds (6.1).

Kuzma’s 3-point shooting has been vital to the Lakers’ spacing over the past couple weeks.

However, his ability to attack the paint has been even more impressive, as he has shot 60.3 percent on layups and 11-of-18 on hook shots.

The 27th-overall selection is just the sixth non-lottery pick to win the award in the first month of the season since its inception in 1981.

Kuzma’s one gripe is that it has come in an 8-13 start to the season for the Lakers.

“It’s pretty cool, for sure,” Kuzma said. “I wish I was Rookie of the Month and we had a winning record, too. That would probably be even better. But it’s definitely a great accomplishment, especially the first one of the season.”

OFFICIAL: @kuzmakyle Named Western Conference Rookie of the Month #KuzControl

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