Are the Lakers Doomed? LeBron James and Anthony Davis are going to miss an extended period due to injury. Injuries are always unfortunate, but the Lakers can still benefit from their key players missing time. Both superstars are supposed to be back before seasons end, meaning they only need a temporary fix.
‘Benefits’ of Absence
The Los Angeles Lakers remain tied for third place in the Western Conference standings. The Lakers need to stay at worst the sixth seed to stay in the playoffs and the eighth seed to qualify for the play-in games. The talent that remains on the roster is certainly enough to keep them in the picture while Davis and James heal.
The absence of both stars opens up many opportunities for younger players like Kyle Kuzma and Dennis Schroder to shine. The Lakers’ offensive and defensive ratings drop significantly without LeBron’s presence on the court. However, this is a chance to find other playmakers and learn how to facilitate without their two best players. James will be alongside Davis on the sideline, enabling him to evaluate the games from a coach-like perspective.
With LeBron James’ advanced age and Davis’ well-documented injury history, a break in their workload could be exactly what they need. Anthony Davis has injuries that range from broken fingers, torn ligaments to concussions and back injuries.
Last season was the most healthy he had ever been and cashed in with an NBA championship. The 2020 season also came to a screeching halt in March due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The six-month hiatus was unprecedented but came at the perfect time for the Los Angeles Lakers. The long break and leadership of LeBron James kept the Lakers motivated and hungry in an NBA Bubble that challenged players mentally. It would be perfect for both of their best players to have a clean bill of health for every game of their career. Unfortunately, that is not how it always works, so they must proceed with what they have.
Both future-hall of famers are expected to make full recoveries in time for the playoffs. That is when the real season starts, and no one wants to see a healthy Lakers squad in the coming weeks.
Extent of Injuries
Anthony Davis first went down with a right calf strain on February 15th in a loss to the Denver Nuggets. Davis had a re-evaluation on March 12th after a month of no physical activity. According to David McMenamin, the Lakers power forward is taking the next step in his rehab, meaning another evaluation is coming in two more weeks. This news is excellent for Lakers fans who once believed he would be out for the year with a ruptured Achilles.
LeBron James suffered a high right ankle sprain early in the second quarter against the Atlanta Hawks on March 20th. Hawks veteran Solomon Hill crashed into James’ ankle diving for a loose ball. Even after writhing in pain, LeBron would continue to play for a couple of minutes and even hit a corner three-pointer before subbing himself out. The NBA is no stranger to these injuries, although some Lakers players took issue with Hill.
Montrezl Harrell alluded to the play as being dirty, saying, “We don’t think it was one of the basketball plays.” The dive at the ball seemed innocent, but you can make your own judgment:
LeBron has been spotted with a walking boot and has already begun rehabbing. The Lakers’ next month is the most brutal stretch that they will endure. Once their stars are fully healthy, they should breeze through the rest of the regular season.
Help Is On The Way
If you think this is the end of the Lakers’ championship hopes–think again. The trade deadline is approaching in the next 24 hours. There are a few key moves that the Lakers will look to complete to improve their roster. Cleveland Cavalier’s center Andre Drummond is the number one target for the purple and gold. Drummond did not suit up since February 12th, while management searches for a trade partner. The Cavs will likely buy out his contract, attracting many suitors like Brooklyn and Boston.
Drummond’s offensive rebounding and rim-protecting are precisely what the Lakers are missing from Marc Gasol and Montrezl Harrell. Even with a thin frontcourt, Harrell could be a name that is on the move. He has a player option for next year, which is money that takes away from possibly adding players that better fit the system. Other options include Kyle Lowry, Demarcus Cousins, and even LaMarcus Aldridge.
There is almost a zero percent chance that the Lakers let the trade deadline come and go with no activity. The absence of LeBron and Anthony Davis will not be the armageddon that many believe it will be. The Lakers are not a finished product, and they know they need more to compete with the juggernaut named the Brooklyn Nets. The next month will be the beginning of a very different look for Los Angeles.