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This is part three of a five part series, focusing on the Lakers Small Forwards for the 2018-19 season. We’ll discuss their projected roles, recent achievements, and injury risks. 

This section includes Kyle Kuzma (SF/PF) as well as Lance Stephenson (SG/SF), even though we may see them play multiple positions. While LeBron James typically plays Small Forward, we have him grouped in Part 4 – Power Forwards due to the Lakers depth at Small Forward.


Ingram
Photo Credit: Ethan Miller / Getty Images

Brandon Ingram  #14

  • Projected Role: Starting Small Forward
  • Salary this season: $5.7M with 1 year remaining after this season
  • 20 years old, in his 3rd NBA season


2016-17 (Lakers)

  • Drafted 2nd overall by the Lakers; was the 2nd youngest player drafted that year
  • NBA All-Rookie Second Team
  • Scored a season high 22 points vs the Spurs
  • Participated in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend
  • Joined the Team USA Select squad and trained with the 2016 Olympic Team

2017-18 (Lakers)

  • Averages: 16.1 points / 3.9 assists / 5.3 rebounds 
  • Participated in the Rising Stars Challenge during All-Star weekend
  • Missed 23 games due to two minor injuries

Injuries

  • Near the end of last season, Ingram suffered a groin strain which caused him to miss 12 games. In his return, he suffered a neck muscle contusion and was placed in concussion protocol for the remaining 11 games of the season. These are relatively minor injuries and shouldn’t bother him in the future.

Kuzma
Photo Credit: Christian Petersen / Getty Images

Kyle Kuzma  #0  (SF/PF)

  • Projected Role: Dependable rotation player, coming in for solid minutes at any front court position depending on matchups
  • Salary this season: $1.7M with 2 years remaining after this season
  • 23 years old, in his 2nd NBA season
  • Enjoys roasting teammates Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Josh Hart on Twitter


2017-18 (Lakers)

  • Drafted 27th overall by the Nets, and acquired by the Lakers in a draft night trade. He was initially projected to be a late 2nd round pick
  • Named Summer League Championship Game MVP for recording 30 points and 10 rebounds in a win over the Blazers
  • Won Western Conference Rookie of the Month in his first month in the league
  • NBA All-Rookie First Team
  • Scored 38 points on 70% shooting vs Houston, snapping the Rockets 14 game win streak

Injuries

  • Kuzma dealt with ankle sprains last season. While he was able to play through the injury for a while, he ultimately missed several games as the it eventually required him sit out.

Lance
Photo Credit: Getty Images

Lance Stephenson  #6  (SG/SF)

  • Projected Role: Tough-minded veteran presence off the bench. Stephenson made headlines when he famously tried to get in LeBron’s head during the 2013-14 Eastern Conference Finals. If he’s willing to mess with The King, he won’t back down from anyone
  • Salary this season: $4.5M on a 1-year contract
  • 27 years old, in his 12th NBA season
  • Earned the nickname “Born Ready” at Rucker Park as a high school sophomore 


2017-18 (Pacers)

  • Played all 82 games for the first time in his career
  • Averages: 9.2 points / 2.9 assists / 5.2 rebounds in 22.6 minutes per game

Injuries

  • Born Ready’s most notable injuries have been a pelvis sprain during the 2014-15 season that lasted 4 weeks, a groin injury during 2015-16 that sidelined him for 8 weeks, and a grade 2 ankle sprain during 2016-17 that cost him another 4 weeks. Considering that he played in all 82 games last season, there’s no doubt that he’s completely recovered and ready to go.

Luol
Photo Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times

Luol Deng  #9

  • Projected Role: Unfortunately for Deng, the Lakers don’t see him as a part of their future. He played only one game last season, and is likely to spend the majority of this season on the Inactive List as they search for a trade partner to take on his monster $18M salary. The Lakers current plan is to develop their young rising stars such as Ingram, Kuzma, Hart, and Svi instead of giving heavy minutes to the veteran Deng.


Luol’s Situation

  • Deng signed a huge contract for the 2016-17 season, before Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka took over, and locked down $18M a year for 4 years. In his first season with the Lakers, he appeared in 56 games. In his second season (last year), he only appeared in 1 game. The Lakers then decided to go in a new direction and benched/deactivated him for the remainder of the season.
  • His benching wasn’t due to his play, but was due to the Lakers wanting to develop their young core. Luol took it like a professional, even though this was a nightmare scenario for any pro athlete. To his credit, he never caused a problem with his teammates or in the media regarding his situation.
  • Only in recent weeks has he openly expressed a desire to be traded if he won’t receive playing time, while still maintaining a high level of class and professionalism.

Career Highlights

  • NBA All-Rookie First Team (2004-05)
  • NBA Sportsmanship Award (2006-07)
  • NBA All-Defensive Second Team (2011-12)
  • J. Walter Kennedy Citizenship Award (2013-14)
  • NBA All-Star (2011-12, 2012-13)

Charitable Highlights

  • Luol is an active contributor to The Luol Deng Foundation, which helps people in need in Africa, USA, and the UK. This follows his personal life path, as each of those regions contributed in a different way to his journey to NBA stardom.
  • He also supports the charities Alliance For The Lost Boys Of Sudan, and Nothing But Nets.

Stay tuned for Part 4: Power Forwards – featuring three time NBA champion LeBron James, as well as Michael Beasley and G League prospect Travis Wear.


Here’s some bonus content, just for fun…


Contact Ryan Ramsey on Twitter @DoubleR818

Top Background Photo Credit: Ty Nowell / Los Angeles Lakers

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