The Los Angeles Lakers are in critical danger of missing the play-in round, an outcome that seemed unfathomable a few months ago. But to no one’s surprise, the injury bug once again caught hold of Anthony Davis for this difficult 2021-22 season.
Davis has taken the floor for just 39 of LA’s 78 contests, a 50% rate for one of the game’s biggest stars. Despite a different training approach over the offseason, the results were, unfortunately, the same for the oft-injured 29-year-old.
AD has now been a part-time player for two consecutive seasons, as a multitude of ailments have prevented him from being the true game-changing star the Lakers need behind LeBron James. But with just under a week to go before the regular season concludes, the big man is going on the defense against the critics who point out his spotty health record.
Anthony Davis has once again struggled with staying on the court
In 2020-21, the defending champion Lakers were unable to repeat due to injuries to both Davis and James. The former missed more time, sitting out 36 of 72 games for the 42-30 Purple and Gold. While he managed to suit up for the start of their opening-round series against the Phoenix Suns, a groin injury hindered him and the Lakers in their six-game loss to the eventual Western Conference champs.
After missing a career-high 36 games, AD spent the last offseason building up his strength and, in theory, his durability. There was renewed confidence in his ability to stay healthy, with LeBron going as far as to say how much he looked forward to a stronger, angrier Davis.
The optimism, sadly, didn’t last very long. While day-to-day issues kept the 6-foot-10 forward perenially “Questionable”, his first bad break came after spraining his MCL on Dec. 17. He returned after 17 games, but soon suffered a mid-foot sprain just before the All-Star break. Finally, after missing another 18 contests, he returned last Friday to face the New Orleans Pelicans, his former team.
While Davis is pushing 30, injuries have followed him since his younger days. The eight-time All-Star has crossed the 70-game barrier twice in his career but hasn’t done so since 2017-18.
Davis ripped his critics as the Lakers fall out of playoff contention
This marks the second straight disappointing season LA has been forced to endure. Despite an MVP-caliber effort from a 37-year-old James, the 31-47 Lakers have been hampered by several factors, one of which being Davis’ unavailability down the stretch.
The “injury-prone” label has followed Davis around for the majority of his 10-year career. Now, in an exclusive interview with the LA Times, the 2020 champ vented about the people doubting his durability and the seriousness of his ailments.
“This is what I’ve learned about injuries: Last year when I wasn’t playing, people were saying ‘AD’s giving up on his team. It’s the playoffs. AD has to play. He’s got to play.’ And when I went out there to play, got hurt again, they said, ‘Who was his trainer? Who let him play?’
So, what the [expletive] do you want me to do? When I play, it’s a problem. It’s a problem when I don’t play. At the end of the day, I’ve got to do what’s best for me and how my body feels. And we go from there. I’m not worried about who’s saying what or who thinks this about me because none of them have stepped on the floor and played. And the ones that did play, they should understand.
These aren’t little ticky-tack injuries.”Anthony Davis
Davis also pointed out that both of his major injuries this season have come from unfortunate circumstances. The big man sprained his MCL due to a collision with another player, while he sprained his foot after stepping on the foot of one of his opponents by mistake.
“The real basketball guys know that there’s nothing I could’ve done in these situations,” Davis said. “What? Move out the way? I keep that attitude because, one, my wife makes me, and two, it’s knowing that these really weren’t my fault. How can I be down or upset or care what people are saying? It could’ve been anybody. I could wear shoes that come up to my knees.”
Should the Lakers consider moving Anthony Davis this offseason?
When Davis had an epic postseason performance in the bubble and helped lead LA to a championship, the thought of moving him felt unfathomable. Soon after that title, the superstar re-upped with the Purple and Gold on a five-year extension worth $189.9 million.
Two years after inking AD, the Lakers should now think about moving him.
While Davis does bring up very valid points about this year’s major injuries, it doesn’t change the fact that he was also hurt last year … and the year prior … and the year before that …
The four-time All-NBA honoree has avoided the devastating season-long injuries we’ve seen players like Kevin Durant and Kawhi Leonard experience. Instead, AD has collected a string of nagging issues that prevent him from giving the Lakers an 82-game campaign. Ten years into his career, it’s reasonable to expect these ongoing ailments to continue.
While the Lakers would be trading away one of the game’s top players, Davis’ consistent durability concerns have stung them in back-to-back seasons. And with LeBron set to turn 38 next year, the idea of building around a 30-something AD who can’t stay healthy is a recipe for disaster.
Moving him would also net the Lakers draft picks, something they don’t have and desperately need as they attempt to rebuild this aging roster over the offseason.
Although he feels the criticism is unfair, it’s hard to totally agree with Davis. His injuries, fluky or not, have lingered long enough to the point where you can expect him to miss considerable time on an annual basis. For a Lakers team that’s desperately trying to win now, that makes keeping AD long-term a fairly unappealing option.