Despite coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccination rates in the NBA being higher than the average population, positive tests have still come about. A number of star players have found themselves in the league’s health and safety protocols, including Ja Morant, Joel Embiid, DeMar DeRozan, and LaMelo Ball.
For the most part, the Los Angeles Lakers have been spared. LeBron James was in the protocols for one game, but was ultimately cleared with a false positive test. Frank Vogel has been very open about encouraging his players to get vaccinated and be safe, and it’s possible that the Lakers’ prudent measures have helped them avoid an outbreak.
That’s at least what Vogel believes, as he spoke about the league-wide situation and what he and the Lakers have done in response.
“We’re just continuing to encourage the booster,” Vogel said. “Encourage to exercise everything that goes into prevention, washing hands, wearing a mask, all those types of things. How concerned am I? It’s just kind of wait and see. You hope for the best, hopefully it doesn’t come into our group and ask for guys to just be as responsible as possible.”
The NBA and Players Association have both officially recommended the booster shot to all individuals who are eligible, and have even ramped up testing for those who have not yet received one. Additionally, the expectation is that players who do not receive the protocols will have to start following different protocols in January, so hopefully the Lakers are among those who opt to get the third shot in order to stay out of the protocols.
Given the already constant flux of players in and out of the lineup and the fact that the Lakers are struggling with consistency even with everyone healthy, they cannot afford to lose key players for 10 days.
Part of being able to succeed in the NBA is winning the battle of attrition. The Lakers failed to do that last season and it was ultimately their downfall against the healthier and hungrier Phoenix Suns in the playoffs.
Injuries have already played a role this season, but as they start to get healthy, maybe some on-court consistency will follow.
Davis: Lakers need to play like underdogs
The Lakers have faced a lack of urgency all season long. Blowing big leads and losing to lottery-bound teams are tell-tale signs of teams who believe they are better than they actually are. Anthony Davis wants to put an end to that mindset.
“These guys already feel like they’re the underdogs when they’re coming in, especially when they’re without their star players and we got to play like we’re the underdogs,” the All-Star forward said. “Which, now, at this point of the season, the way we’re playing, a lot of games, we probably are.
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