The Los Angeles Lakers‘ disappointing season turned into a nightmare when Anthony Davis went down. The eight-time All-Star has now missed 13 games for the Lakers since spraining his MCL against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Dec. 17. However, there is hope for Davis to return to action soon, which should bring a heavy sigh of relief for LA’s declining defense.
Anthony Davis’ injury timetable gets a positive update
Things in Hollywood took a dramatic turn for the worst when Davis fell to the ground one month ago. It was the first significant injury of the year for the oft-damaged star, who missed 36 games in 2020-21 due to a hurt calf and Achilles.
But both AD and the Purple and Gold finally received some much-needed good news.
Davis participated in an individual on-court workout on Friday. According to ESPN, the organization now harbors hope that AD could be back in action at some point during LA’s end-of-month road trip, which begins Jan. 21.
The 28-year-old Davis has struggled from beyond the arc, hitting a dismal 17.9% of his 3-point attempts. But he’s otherwise been an All-Star-caliber big man, averaging 23.3 points and 9.9 rebounds with 2.0 blocks. He’s also shooting 56.6% from two, the highest mark of his career.
The Lakers defense needs Davis back desperately
Losing a four-time All-NBA player like Davis is clearly going to affect any team. That’s been especially true for the Lakers, who, despite an incredible run by LeBron James, are just 5-8 since AD’s injury. But nowhere is his absence felt more than on the defensive end.
Before the four-time All-Defensive selection went down, the Lakers were allowing 107.1 points per 100 possessions. That placed the Purple and Gold 10th in the NBA. But since Davis went down, LA is 27th with 117.3 points allowed per 100 possessions.
When healthy, Davis is one of three big men head coach Frank Vogel has at his disposal, joining veterans Dwight Howard and DeAndre Jordan. But with his injury, Vogel is going small, keeping Howard and Jordan mostly out of his rotation and starting James at the 5. While the offense hasn’t suffered, LA gave up 70 points in the paint Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.
Once Davis comes back, the Lakers will get the rim protector they desperately need.
How much will Anthony Davis’ return matter to the Lakers?
It stands to reason AD’s return — hopefully later this month — will help turn LA’s stumbling defense around. But will it transform the Lakers into the championship contender many expected them to be?
The truth is, we don’t really know yet.
LA’s All-Star trio of Davis, James, and Russell Westbrook has only started 15 games together. That’s barely any time for three superstar players to figure out how to play with one another. And the results were less than spectacular when they did as the Lakers went just 8-7 in those games.
Davis’ comeback will undoubtedly generate some questions — none greater than if his arrival signals the end of Russell Westbrook’s stranglehold of the offense. The former MVP is stuck in a horrid shooting slump that has further sunk his already disappointing season. But whatever happens with Westbrook once AD is back will go a long way in determining the rest of LA’s season.
Even with Davis, the Lakers won’t catch Western Conference contenders like the Golden State Warriors or Phoenix Suns. Chances are, they will start on the road in any seven-game series. But if Davis comes back for good and is able to form chemistry with LeBron and Russ, they can still be a dangerous playoff team.
They just have to make sure their defense has improved first.
All statistics courtesy of Basketball Reference.