Anthony Davis’ Return Will Be Too Little, Too Late for the Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers are experiencing another discouraging tumble falling to the brink of missing the play-in tournament. As the Lakers grasp onto their diminishing playoff aspirations, star big man Anthony Davis is nearing his return.

Davis is progressing through his recovery from a mid-foot injury that has kept him sidelined since before the All-Star break. However, his anticipated return may be occurring a fraction too late.

Anthony Davis is experiencing another injury-plagued season

Los Angeles Lakers big man Anthony Davis reacts to a play during an NBA game.
Lakers forward Anthony Davis reacts to a play during an NBA game. | Elsa/Getty Images

After missing half of last season due to injuries, Anthony Davis entered his third campaign with the Lakers hoping he could change the narrative.

However, Davis has stumbled through yet another campaign derailed by injuries. He missed 17 straight games due to a sprained MCL in his left knee. He has now missed the last 16 consecutive contests due to a right mid-foot sprain, where the Lakers hold a 4-12 record without him.

As Davis inches closer to his return, the star big man’s effort may not be enough to lift his team forward.

Anthony Davis’ return will be too little, too late for the Lakers

The timing of the Lakers’ latest skid has put their playoff aspirations in real jeopardy.

As Los Angeles reaches the final stretch of the regular season, Anthony Davis’ return looms over the franchise. Head coach Frank Vogel has provided progressive updates concerning the star big man’s recovery over the last couple of weeks.

On Monday afternoon, Vogel revealed that Davis went through his first full practice for the first time since he suffered the mid-foot sprain against the Utah Jazz days before the All-Star break. The 29-year-old isn’t expected to play against the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, but he’s inching closer to playing again.

The latest update is a promising sign for the Lakers, as Davis’s return will be coming when the team needs him most. They are spiraling toward a disastrous fate, while LeBron James’s left ankle injury further compounds the complexity of the situation.

Los Angeles desperately needs stability back beyond James. The team will likely take the precautionary route with Davis for at least one more game due to his injury history. That puts him on the floor for the final seven regular-season games.

Beyond Davis needing to get his legs under him quickly, the Lakers’ remaining schedule isn’t a cakewalk. After Tuesday’s game against the Mavericks, they face the Jazz and Denver Nuggets twice each, Pelicans, Phoenix Suns, and Golden State Warriors. Each of those teams has strong playoff aspirations while hoping to finish the regular season on a strong note carrying momentum in postseason action.

The Lakers have the deck stacked against them, making it hard to envision a clear path to even the play-in tournament.

Russell Westbrook must step up to keep the Lakers’ playoff hopes alive

As turbulent as the 2021-22 season has been, the Lakers haven’t lost hope or sight of pushing toward the playoffs.

Los Angeles has preached patience throughout the campaign, never truly caving into the downpouring of frustrations from their lack of consistency. The hurdle to reach the playoffs become more challenging with LeBron James’ ankle injury, potentially leaving them without their two best players.

As it has been all season long, the pressure is on Russell Westbrook to step up as a leading factor. The Lakers need him more than ever to perform up to the All-Star capabilities he’s shown throughout his career. If James misses any time, Westbrook will have the ball primarily in his hands to lead the short-handed group.

In his last five games, he has shot over 50% four times while scoring at least 20 points on four occasions and making multiple three-pointers in each contest. The Lakers will need all that and more to have a legitimate chance to keep their playoff aspirations alive.

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