The Los Angeles Lakers were hopeful that a full offseason would put an end to the injury problems they faced last season. Instead, they have been ravaged by minor injuries to Trevor Ariza, Talen Horton-Tucker, Wayne Ellington, Malik Monk and Kendrick Nunn.
Ariza has already been ruled out for at least eight weeks while Horton-Tucker is out for at least four. Ellington, Monk, and Nunn are still up in the air for Opening Night on Tuesday against the Golden State Warriors.
While Ellington sat out their most recent preseason game due to a sore hamstring, it was later revealed to be a more legitimate injury by head coach Frank Vogel. “Wayne, actually, his MRI revealed a strain in his hamstring as well,” Vogel said after Tuesday’s practice. “Grade 1, still will be re-evaluated in a week. It’s still possible to dress Opening Night but he could potentially not be in there.”
Vogel had about the same level of certainty with regard to Monk and Nunn as well. “We’ll have to see all three of those guys progress over the next week.”
It’s certainly disappointing to see injuries already affecting this team, even more so when factoring in that the younger players are all getting hurt. However, the good news is that nothing appears to be too long-term, with Ariza’s eight weeks being the longest.
The ideal situation is to have Ellington, Monk and Nunn back in the lineup on Tuesday, providing a huge boost of depth for the Big 3. If not, the Lakers will have just a nine-man rotation to start their season, as five players would be out.
However, the Lakers were notoriously cautious last season when it came to injuries, and there’s no reason to believe they won’t be that way again this year. If there’s any doubt surrounding those three, it would be more likely to see them sit out for Opening Night.
LeBron James, Anthony Davis expected to carry the load to begin season
Between injuries and many new players, LeBron James and Anthony Davis will have a lot of pressure on them to start the season strong. Vogel made that clear when discussing the team’s game plan of getting everyone adjusted to their system. “[James and Davis] are most familiar with our system and with each other, they will carry the load early in that regard but we need everybody to hit the ground running.
“That’s going to be the expectation, we’re working hard to make sure that that takes place. But AD and LeBron, because they’ve been in our system, they’ll lead that.”
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