The Los Angeles Lakers have had to make do without their two superstars for some time now and the team has done an admirable job of staying afloat without LeBron James and Anthony Davis. But it looks like they will finally see the return of one of their stars.
Davis has been cleared to resume full on-court activities recently and it seemed to be just a matter of time before he returned to the lineup. Davis was able to have a good practice on Wednesday and now assuming everything goes well beforehand on Thursday morning, Davis will be back in Purple and Gold for the team’s game against the Dallas Mavericks.
“It ran a process to make sure it was completely healthy and healed before I go back out and play. We revisited those same tests maybe three-four days ago … it felt completely fine. Therefore we’re able to decide ready to get back to basketball activities.
“In the past three-four days, I’m ramping up. See how it feels, playing through contact and get up and down and things of that nature. So it’s more the ultimate test of two days live contact for about 35-40 minutes and then today go through a full practice and see how it responds. In the morning, see if it’s sore or if it feels good. We go forward from there.”
The return is obviously much welcomed and Davis and the Lakers will have a lot of work to do in order to prepare themselves for the upcoming playoff run. But even as he returns the team will be cautious with him.
Head coach Frank Vogel added that Davis will initially be on a 15-minute restriction in his return.
“Yeah, as long as he feels good in the morning, that’s the biggest factor is we want to make sure he looked good on the court today which he did. But it’s really how he responds to the increased workload and if he has any significant soreness then we’re prepared to wait another game,” Vogel said. “But if he feels well tomorrow then he’s able to go and if he does then yes, we’ll be on a 15-minute restriction.”
The team has consistently stressed that their top priority is the long-term health of their stars and this would be right in line with that thinking.
Davis himself has bought into that mindset as well, wanting to make sure he was completely healthy before returning, even if it took longer than he anticipated.
“I think the first time I did it in late January, I started feeling it. I wasn’t 100 percent when I was coming back. I didn’t think it was this big of an issue and then on February 14 in Denver, I felt something I never felt before as far pain. That’s how I knew it was probably something serious, so I just wanted to make sure it was 100 percent when I came back. I don’t want to through over and over for the rest of the season let alone the rest of my career. I wanted to make sure that I was coming back 100 percent because it wouldn’t be fair to myself. It wouldn’t be fair to my team.
“It feels good. I feel 100 percent healthy. I feel great, especially with the rest of these games. 16 games left or something like that, 14 leading to the playoffs. A lot of guys around the league aren’t healthy. A lot of teams aren’t healthy and for us for the most part be healthy. I’m getting back 100 percent, I am 100 percent healthy. We got Bron who’s coming back as well who’s going to be 100 percent healthy. I think we put ourselves in a good position.”
Regardless, the team and staff will be ecstatic to have Davis back in the lineup in whatever capacity he can be. The staff will closely monitor everything with him to ensure there are no other setbacks and they can really begin ramping up for this stretch run.
The ultimate goal for the team is obviously defending their championship and doing so without Davis is nearly impossible. The big man is the centerpiece of the Lakers defense which is the core identity of this team, in addition to being one of the most versatile offensive players the NBA has seen.
Davis’ return is just the latest step in the Lakers’ path towards returning to the top of the NBA and now everyone will continue to anticipate the return of his co-star, James, to make the team complete.
James doing ‘light work’ on the court
Speaking of James, he is still farther away from his return but is making progress as Vogel alluded to recently.
“Yeah, it’s still light work on the court, but he is doing court work,” Vogel said before Monday night’s game against the Utah Jazz. “Progressing each day. Just trying to do a little bit more with activity each day.”
The Lakers will be just as cautious with LeBron as they were with Davis, not rushing anything and being sure he is 100% before returning. Most importantly, the Lakers continue to inch closer to being completely healthy.
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