Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis suffered a sprained MCL in his left knee on December 17 against the Minnesota Timberwolves and has been in street clothes ever since. The Chicago native has missed the Lakers’ last 12 games, and the team went 5-7 in that stretch despite LeBron James putting up herculean numbers.
Even though the Lakers desperately need Davis back, they won’t rush his return since he has an extensive injury history. However, it appears the All-Star could return to Los Angeles’ lineup sooner rather than later.
Lakers reportedly optimistic Anthony Davis returns during end-of-month road trip
According to Dave McMenamin of ESPN, there is optimism within the Lakers organization that Davis could return to game action sometime at the end of January. The one-time champion has been practicing with a bulky brace on his left knee but has been “moving well” during workouts.
Davis appeared in 27 games for the Lakers before getting hurt. He was averaging 23.3 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 2.9 assists while shooting 52.1% from the field. However, the All-NBA forward shot only 17.9% from beyond the arc and 32.4% on shots outside the paint.
The Lakers acquired Davis from the New Orleans Pelicans in the summer of 2019. They won the 2020 championship over the Miami Heat, validating the blockbuster trade. However, Davis has been too injury-prone since capturing his first title.
Anthony Davis can’t stay healthy
Davis missed 36 of the Lakers’ 72 regular-season games in 2020-21 because of various injuries. He also got hurt in the first round of the 2021 playoffs against the Phoenix Suns, a series the Lakers lost in six. Although he certainly must have been down after getting hurt again this season, Davis said he was in “good spirits” immediately following the MCL sprain diagnosis since things could have been worse.
“Just thinking to myself that this is another journey of being able to get my mind, body right,” Davis said in December. “So, use this time to get fully healthy and come back better than ever.”
Davis has career averages of 24.3 points, 9.0 rebounds, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 blocks in 125 games with the Lakers. He and LeBron are one of the best duos in the NBA. The problem is that AD can’t seem to stay healthy, which is why the Lakers acquired Russell Westbrook from the Washington Wizards to give LeBron another star so his usage rate could decrease in Year 19.
Westbrook, though, has been an awful fit with the Lakers. He leads the league in turnovers and can’t buy a jumper from the outside. The purple and gold will undoubtedly be a better team than they are right now once Davis returns to the floor, but the Westbrook problem likely isn’t going away.
No one wants Russell Westbrook, who can’t shoot
Westbrook is shooting 29.3% from the field over his last five games and hasn’t made a 3-pointer. The one-time MVP is averaging 16.8 points, 9.5 rebounds, 7.8 assists, and 4.2 turnovers while shooting 40.1% overall and 16.7% from beyond the arc since Davis hurt his knee.
According to Sam Amick of The Athletic, the Lakers showed covert interest in discussing a possible Westbrook trade with rival teams. However, no one wants the UCLA product since he’s making $44.2 million this season and playing the worst basketball of his career. Westbrook has a plus-minus of -40 this season, and his lack of shooting skills has made it difficult for LeBron and Davis to co-exist with him.
The Lakers haven’t been fully healthy all season. Along with Davis being out, Kendrick Nunn has yet to play this year due to a knee injury. While the team could turn things around once Davis and Nunn get back, as long as Westbrook turns the ball over at the drop of a hat and bricks open jumpers, the Lakers won’t succeed.