The volatile nature of the 2020-21 season has made roster depth particularly important for the Los Angeles Lakers and other NBA teams.
Due to a short offseason, training camp and preseason, franchises have to take special care of their players to best protect them from potential injury. Moreover, a possible danger of coronavirus (COVID-19) exposure lurks in every time teams practice or play, threatening with quarantine lasting several days.
L.A. has so far not been heavily affected injuries nor prolonged layoffs caused by health and safety protocols. Players such as Anthony Davis, Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope each have missed a few games this season but already returned to play.
However, Lakers veteran Jared Dudley has been sidelined with calf soreness since the 117-115 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Jan. 8.
“He did it the morning after the Chicago game,” Lakers head coach Frank Vogel recently explained.
“He came in to play pickup with some of the younger guys, and sprained it then. Was getting close to returning, and strained it again. Just aggravated it, so it put him out for a few more days.”
Vogel later added Dudley would be sidelined for at least another game, and potentially a second. Thus his return may not come until the Lakers face the Detroit Pistons on Thursday in the second night of a back-to-back.
Dudley talked up the depth of L.A.’s roster in an exclusive interview with LakersNation.com ahead of the start of the season.
The forward said he was confident the defending NBA champions would cope well with the hectic schedule and challenges. “It’s a disadvantage from a mental (aspect); from a physical standpoint, we’re going to be fine,” he said at the time.
“It’s less recovery time (but) we’re deep. We might catch a couple losses here and there when it comes to scheduling. It happens. When it comes down to it in the playoffs, I said this last year, it’s going to be hard to beat us four out of seven.”
Vogel not concerned with difficulty of Lakers schedule
In addition to the challenges posed by the pandemic, the Lakers are approaching a tough part of their schedule with games against the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics on the horizon.
But Vogel said he did not place much weight on the quality of opponent, focusing on the performance of his own team instead.
“All these games are just a test of good habits,” Vogel explained. “Whether you’re playing against a great team, or a team that’s playing really well, or a team with a poor record, it doesn’t matter.
“They’ve still got five guys on the floor and we’ve got to execute at a high enough level to win. Just focusing on us.”
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