The Los Angeles Lakers are trekking through a campaign destined for another early playoff exit despite LeBron James‘ continued brilliance. James may be showcasing that he remains an ageless wonder, but that hasn’t led to sustained success.
The Lakers haven’t looked any bit the part of a team with realistic NBA title hopes, especially with Anthony Davis sidelined. As the star big man remains out of the lineup, his time off the floor has led him to admit a stark reality ahead regarding playing alongside the four-time league MVP.
Anthony Davis and LeBron James pairing has featured highs and lows
The Lakers’ decision to acquire Anthony Davis has led to an experience filled with a mixed bag of emotions.
Davis and LeBron James anchored the franchise’s push toward capturing their 17th NBA title in 2020. Since then, Los Angeles has fallen well short of championship contention.
After going through the shortest offseason for a defending champion, the team went through an injury-plagued campaign, specifically seeing Davis miss three months due to a calf injury related to his Achilles tendon. Meanwhile, James missed six weeks due to a right high ankle sprain. Both stars returned before the 2021 playoffs, but Davis’ groin ailment led to a first-round exit against the Phoenix Suns.
Things have taken a rougher turn in the 2021-22 campaign, with their roster underperforming, specifically Russell Westbrook failing to fill the third-star role. Davis has missed 31 games due to injuries hasn’t helped, while James is dealing with nagging swelling in his left knee.
As the Lakers move through another troubling campaign, it’s led their eight-time All-Star to admit the troubling truth about his star teammate.
Anthony Davis admits the troubling truth about playing with LeBron James
LeBron James isn’t slowing down in his 19th campaign, but the Lakers are stumbling toward potentially missing the playoffs entirely.
Anthony Davis is moving through another injury-plagued campaign that has significantly contributed to his team’s struggles to contend for even a secure postseason position. The frustrating situation has led the star forward to think about James’ time left to compete for another NBA title before he retires.
“Very short window,” Anthony Davis said on how he’s felt watching LeBron on the Lakers sidelines via Dave McMenamin of ESPN. “We don’t know how long he has left in this league.
“Phenomenal player, future Hall of Famer, and to be able to play alongside him, you want to take advantage of it. We did the first year. Last year we both were banged up, and then this year, it’s [injuries] again but more so me. So every day it’s closing. That’s another frustrating part. A lot of guys don’t get to play with talent like that. I have the opportunity to do so…I want to take advantage of that time.”
James is still playing at an elite level, but the roster around him, combined with Davis’ health issues and Russell Westbrook’s lackluster play, has put a damper on the team’s championship hopes. The 37-year-old may still be playing at an elite level, but his stellar play can’t carry the team as he’s done many times previously in his career.
Los Angeles needs Davis healthy and performing at the level he’s proven capable of if the franchise hopes to take advantage of James’ remaining time.
Lakers control their playoff destiny
Anthony Davis’ comments demonstrate a keen understanding of LeBron James’ NBA future, but the Lakers are moving toward another disappointing fate.
Their struggles have bled into the second half of the season, dropping eight out of the last 10 games. The only two wins occurred after James scored at least 50 points. Davis appears headed toward an imminent return, but Los Angeles needs stable production from the supporting cast to push the franchise forward.
The Lakers’ subpar defensive effort sits at the root of the team’s shortcomings, ranking 27th in the league, giving up 113.6 points per contest. In the 10 games since the All-Star break, Los Angeles has allowed more than 110 points seven times and north of 130 points on three occasions.
Despite that, the Lakers still control their destiny in the play-in tournament. They sit one game ahead of the 10th-seed New Orleans Pelicans and hold a 2.5-game advantage over the Portland Trail Blazers. With 14 regular-season games remaining, it’s do-or-die time for Los Angeles’ playoff aspirations.