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Issue 17 Out Now

Lakers Are Fuming

Photo by Kevin C. Cox (Getty Images)

LeBron James is arguably the greatest player basketball has ever seen but none of that matters if Anthony Davis is not healthy come playoff time. The Kings’ chase at championship number five would be put on hold until next year, when James is 37 years of age.

AT age 36, James has already shown he can withstand father time and be the lone star to take a team all the way to the NBA Finals. However, the Western Conference is a whole different animal than the teams James would often see during his Eastern conference playing days.

Their cross city rivals, Los Angeles Clippers are on a mission to rewrite the narrative surrounding the team after generations of embarrassing playoff choke jobs. Their latest took place last season when the Denver Nuggets came back from a 3–1 deficit to win the series in 7 games. Paul George struggled mightily throughout the playoffs for the Clippers, but midway through this season you can make a case that he’s responded greatly to the criticism he faced during the off-season. He’s readjusted himself to be the Clippers best player. Speaking of the Denver Nuggets a 7’0 player from Serbia that goes by the Nikola Jokic aka “ The Joker”, might be the best big man in the league and the greatest passer the game has ever seen. They are also very familiar with the Lakers who they saw for 5 games in the Conference finals last season. Plus, lets not forget about the Utah Jazz who has the best record in basketball with a 25–6 record having won 21 of their past 23 games. Phoenix and Dallas aren’t playing any games, the Western Conference is stacked.

Los Angeles knows the process to win championship isn’t easy, their 16 championships is the most of any team in league history, but it took them a decade just to get back to the playoffs. The importance of Anthony Davis can’t be underestimated because we’ve seen what LeBron has done in the past. Without their defensive anchor Los Angeles is leaving at minimum 30 points and 12 rebounds on the floor nightly. The team’s defense has slipped a little because besides Davis there isn’t anyone else on the roster who can consistently protect the paint, block, and altar shots.

The biggest issue the team finds themselves in right now is the ability to generate offense when LeBron is off the floor. The absence of Davis is worrying because he’s dealing with a right calf strain, and is presumed to be out four weeks. The last superstar to deal with this sort of injury was Kevin Durant and we know what proceeded to happen when he decided to try to play through the injury. 14 months of rehab due to a torn Achilles. The Lakers must be very careful and diligent with Davis, if not and he rushes back because he sees his team struggling like they are now can result in another Durant situation. Which would lead to James being 38 by time Davis recovery would end and might not ever see another championship again.

Not having Davis isn’t the only problem Los Angeles has. The impact that guard Dennis Schroder brings on both ends of the court is missed. The French guard is out in part because of the leagues COVID mandate that is in place. The Lakers have lost three straight games, while dropping four out of their last five. Offensively the team’s rating is 25th (103.9) since both Davis and Schroder have both been out. An inability to generate offense not only for one’s self but others is the Lakers kryptonite as of now. As a result James is playing heavy minutes on a body with almost 20 years of mileage and deep playoff runs. The Lakers know they have a problem but aren’t quite sure if it can be fixed swiftly according to coach Frank Vogel.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to make sure we give LeBron appropriate rest, “After the All-Star break we still don’t know what the schedule looks like, but hopefully they build in some appropriate time for those guys to get their legs under them and get the rest that the guys who aren’t in the All-Star Game are going to get. Like we do all year, we’ll continue to evaluate that on a day-by-day basis.”

For the Lakers sake, getting back Schroder before Davis is their only hope to ease some pressure off their 36 year-old star. If they cant, the Lakers chase to championship is all but over, and a waste of a season for a man who only has so little time left.

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