It’s not an encouraging time for the Los Angeles Lakers and their rabid fans. Uncertainty has been flowing through the air for some time now.
With all the recent injury updates, however, there’s a feeling that the team may at least be close to regaining their full line-up. On Sunday, while commenting on the recently returned Anthony Davis playing limited minutes, ESPN Senior Insider Adrian Rojnarowski briefly brought up that Lakers superstar LeBron James could take the floor again in the next week.
“You’ll see Anthony Davis be in that 15-minute minute restriction … but that will start ramping up as we get closer to LeBron James’s return, which could be as soon as the following week.”
James hasn’t suited up for the Purple and Gold for close to five weeks. He last played at home against the Atlanta Hawks on March 21st, where he suffered a high right ankle sprain early in the 2nd quarter and was visibly in pain. He stepped out and did not finish the game.
The King’s return couldn’t come any sooner for the Lakers. He has taken a big chunk of production with him as he is averaging 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and 7.9 assists per game on the season. It’s also not a secret that the team’s entire offensive flow is centered around having him on the floor.
The ‘other guys’ have tried their best surviving without James and Davis, and while it was decent, the damage has been big enough to cause some negative playoff implications, one that needs to be straightened out right away.
The Lakers currently stand at the fifth spot in the Western Conference standings through a 35-25 record, which isn’t even good enough to get a homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs. The supporting cast went 7-10 in the 17 games that they were without their pair of superstars, highlighted by interchanging between wins and losses for 12 consecutive outings.
The coaching staff can’t expect Dennis Schroder, Kyle Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to keep sharing the baton regarding who will pace the scoring next. It will work for certain spurts, but they are not clear-cut primary options for an extended period. All are good players who fit better as the third man or beyond.
AD’s return has been underwhelming
It’s a given that Davis is still trying to regain his rhythm, and that they are slowly easing him back into form. Fully healthy or not, though, Sunday’s 108-93 loss to the Dallas Mavericks did not look good, and it wasn’t any better than his first game back.
The big man played 28 minutes and took part in a second-half meltdown that had them leading by as much as 17 and then losing by 15. It was the Lakers’ third straight loss and are now 0-2 since his return. In those two games, he has only posted 10.5 points and 3.5 rebounds per game in 22.5 minutes of play, topped off by a woeful 24.1 percent shooting (7-for-29).
The Lakers will be back in action this Tuesday against a much lighter opponent: the lottery-bound Orlando Magic. They’ll meet in downtown Florida at 7:00 AM, Manila time.