NBA Injury Report: Betting, DFS Impact of LeBron James, Kyle Kuzma Injuries
Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports. Pictured: Kyle Kuzma
- The NBA Injury Report details the slate's key injuries and their betting and DFS impact.
- With a couple players questionable, the Lakers are the key team to analyze on Thursday's slate.
There are six NBA games tonight with several injuries to note and questionable players. We’ll analyze one key situation in this piece: the Los Angeles Lakers at Los Angeles Clippers (10:30 p.m ET, SportsNet LA).
Lakers SF LeBron James (groin) is out, PF Kyle Kuzma (hip) and SG Josh Hart (knee) are questionable.
Injury background: Kuzma has missed the past two games due to a strained left hip and will be a game-time decision Thursday. He went through most of practice on Wednesday and said he’s feeling good and will play if he successfully goes through morning shootaround.
Hart continues to deal with a sore knee and did not practice on Wednesday, opting to receive treatment instead.
LeBron James is listed out by the team for the 18th consecutive game due to a strained left groin, but his status could technically change depending on how he feels during shootaround.
Tonight’s impact: The Lakers have trotted out the same starting five in the last two games, with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Michael Beasley replacing LeBron and Kuzma. Ivica Zubac has also been inserted into the starting lineup ahead of Tyson Chandler and JaVale McGee.
Coach Luke Walton has been inconsistent with handling rotation minutes, and inexplicably played Hart for 35 minutes in Tuesday’s loss despite admitting that Hart’s knee tendinitis is hindering his shooting ability. Beasley and Zubac were held to 27 total minutes, while Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk logged a season-high 28 minutes off the bench.
This pattern of uncertainty has created volatile production from all rotation players outside of Brandon Ingram. Ingram recorded a career-high 36 points on Tuesday, as he made 16 of his 20 field goal attempts.
With LeBron, Kuzma, and Lonzo Ball (ankle) off the court this season, Ingram has seen a +3.4% usage rate increase and a +3.7% assist rate bump as he benefits from additional ball-handling responsibilities, per the On/Off tool.
If Kuzma is able to suit up, he’ll firmly be in the mix in DFS at just $6,200 on FanDuel, as he has carries a 27.1% usage rate with LeBron off the court. Rajon Rondo also remains underpriced on FD, where he holds a Bargain Rating of 81% and is projected to play 36 minutes — the third-most out of all point guards in Thursday’s six-game slate.
Perhaps the most difficult decision of the slate is navigating the center position, where Zubac and McGee are currently the first- and second-rated center options in the Phan Model. The matchup against the Clippers is exceptional, as the Clips rank 23rd in defensive efficiency and have yielded the third-most FD points to opposing centers this season.
Despite losing 11 of 17 games without LeBron, the Lakers are tied for the fourth-best Defensive Rating over the last 15 games. The Clippers won by 11 points in the most recent matchup, and a current five-point spread suggests that Kuzma will return after a two-game absence. If the Lakers play it safe and hold Kuzma out once more, value could be found on the Clippers side.