Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James has missed the team’s last six games after suffering a tendon injury in his foot. The Lakers have managed well without him, going 4-2, but would undoubtedly prefer he return sooner rather than later.
The Lakers have 15 games remaining on their schedule over the course of four weeks. Based on the Lakers’ initial diagnosis of James’ injury, he will not be reevaluated until March 23 at the earliest, which is another six games from Sunday, March 12, and would leave L.A. with only nine regular season games remaining.
But James has never been one to miss more time than necessary, and given the situation the Lakers have found themselves in, he may have extra motivation to get back out on the court, according to Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
“From what I am told, LeBron is turning over every stone he possibly can from a treatment perspective to get that foot in a position to return at some point this season…As crazy as it is, in mid-March, being two games under .500, the Lakers actually have a lot of life. Now, there’s no margin for error, we cannot afford an Anthony Davis turned ankle, we cannot afford giving away a game or two. But they still have a window to do something special this season and they sense it. You can tell by the way AD is playing, you can tell by the way LeBron is trying everything he can to get back that they sense there’s still an opportunity here.”
James and the Lakers have absolutely every reason to be confident. Since receiving players from the trade deadline, the Lakers are 8-3 despite LeBron having only been available in three of those games. He didn’t play particularly well in those games either, averaging just 20 points per game on 38.6% from the field.
If James can find a way to get healthy before the Play-In Tournament or the Playoffs, there’s no telling what a fully healthy Lakers team could do. LeBron is clearly aware of this, hence his reported thoroughness in his recovery process.
L.A. also has the fortune of a relatively easy upcoming schedule. In their final 15 games, just four are against teams currently in the top six of their conference. March 12 against the New York Knicks, April 5 vs. the L.A. Clippers and both March 22 and April 7 against the Phoenix Suns. Kevin Durant is likely unavailable for the first of those two matchups as well.
James may be able to take more than the originally planned three weeks while the Lakers continue to stack up wins and inch closer to avoiding the Play-In Tournament. Of course, this requires that the Lakers continue to win.
Darvin Ham says Anthony Davis is in golden years of career
One of the reasons the Lakers have been able to find success even without James has been the dominant play of Anthony Davis. Including the game that James sustained his injury, Davis is averaging 28.8 points, 13.0 rebounds, and 3.0 blocks per game on 56.4% from the field.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham believes Davis is entering a second prime that is typical of his type of player at his age.
“I see a really bright future for AD. These are the golden years in his early 30s for a big and I think you’ll see some fantastic basketball out of him. You’re already seeing that and I just think he’s gonna be able to sustain it more with the way he’s gonna be able to take care of his body from this point forward.”
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