The Los Angeles Lakers suffered a first-round loss to the Phoenix Suns, bringing a difficult season to a disappointing end. The Lakers made a number of offseason and mid-season moves meant to improve the roster, including additions like Dennis Schroder, Montrezl Harrell, Andre Drummond, Ben McLemore and others. However, it didn’t translate through an injury-riddled season.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James both missed significant time with injury, and it always felt like role players would suffer minor injuries — or be entered into the NBA’s health and safety protocols — just as people were getting healthy. Even in that first-round series, the Lakers held a 2-1 lead and were keeping it close in Game 4 when Davis suffered a groin injury that would ultimately end his season.
McLemore, who played a diminished role against the Suns, believes the Lakers would still be playing today had Davis stayed healthy, he said via TMZ Sports:
“I think everybody know that,” McLemore told us out on Rodeo Drive this week. “Great superstar. Everybody knows that.”
While it’s unfair to the Suns, who played a great series, to say that they simply got lucky, it is an interesting thought experiment to wonder what would have happened had Davis not gone down with an injury. Davis had played excellent basketball in Games 2 and 3 of the series and the Lakers looked to be in the driver’s seat.
Regardless, injuries defined the entire 2020-21 Lakers season, so it’s unsurprising that their misfortune stayed with them in the playoffs. The Suns have now already booked their ticket to the Western Conference Finals after sweeping the Denver Nuggets in the second round.
Perhaps that could have been the Lakers. However, it feels almost better for them to get a head-start on resting and healing ahead of the 2021-22 season.
Lakers players felt they had to approve condensed 72-game season
One of the biggest reasons for all of the injuries that affected the Lakers season was the extremely short offseason followed by a massively condensed regular season. However, the Lakers got the sense that it was their only realistic option.
The 72-game season was approved by the Players’ Association fairly, but perhaps some players feel as though they were forced to agree due to a lack of alternatives.
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