When the Los Angeles Lakers made trades for Jared Vanderbilt, D’Angelo Russell, and Malik Beasley, some thought that it may not have been enough considering how other teams like the Dallas Mavericks and Phoenix Suns landed bonafide superstars in Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant.
Since then, LeBron James has only played in three games due to injury, and Russell has only played in four games due to an ankle injury that he suffered in an unfortunate incident. Losing one of their stars and their brand new (or I guess, returning,) point guard could have spelled doom for them, but instead the Lakers have taken sole possession of a top-10 seed in the West for the first time this entire season after going 7-3 over their last 10 games.
A lot of that success can be attributed to Anthony Davis, who has played in nine of those contests and is averaging 26.3 points, 14.1 rebounds and 2.7 blocks per game – reminding everyone that his health and not his game has been his issue ever since they won the bubble title in 2020.
However, even in the win against the Grizzlies, Davis gave Lakers fans a bit of a fright. He took a hard hit to the face and had to take some time out of the game to stop the bleeding, but he finished the game strong. He even almost had a double-double in the first quarter.
There’s plenty of credit to go around, though. Dennis Schroder has been solid, averaging 13.7 points and 6.8 assists while playing all 10 games since the All-Star break, while Jarred Vanderbilt has also made his presence known on the defensive end of the floor with his endless hustle. That’s helped other teammates like Austin Reaves, Malik Beasley and Rui Hachimura pick their spots to attack.
Again, they’ve been doing all of this while missing James and Russell for the majority of their games, which bodes well for the Lakers when the two finally return healthy. It’s going to be a wild race for the Lakers and the rest of the Western Conference, but they’re showing that you can’t count them out quite yet.
The postseason is always more entertaining when the Lakers are involved, especially considering the size of their global fanbase, so I’m sure the drama will go up a notch as the final few games of the season are played. As always, health is what’s going to hold the Lakers back, so if they can recover in the next couple of weeks, the rest of the NBA will be on notice.