Although the injury did not appear serious as Davis was able to stay in the game, he reportedly is expected to miss around a month of action.
The timing of the injury could not be worse considering Davis has been playing at an MVP level for the last month. Additionally, after a rough start, the Lakers have been finding a groove as of late to get back in the postseason mix.
Still though, I’ve seen a lot of people completely writing off the Lakers season and I just don’t agree that is the case. Here’s why:
Schedule is a bit forgiving
Although the Lakers have a lot of road games coming up, their schedule is a bit forgiving over the next month. In addition to 50% of their games being against teams below .500, they are also playing some other teams dealing with injuries of their own which makes the playing field more even.
Monday night is a good example of that. Even though the Lakers are playing the Phoenix Suns, one of the best teams in the West, they will be without Devin Booker, Cam Payne, Cameron Johnson, Jock Lawndale and potentially Deandre Ayton.
Western Conference is mediocre
Plus, it’s not like the Lakers need to win every game to stay in the playoff mix. The Lakers currently sit at 13-16, which is in 12th place in the conference. Even with that though, the Lakers are only 3.5 games out of the fifth seed in the West.
To stay in the playoff mix, L.A. just needs to go around .500 and tread water until Davis is able to return. If they can do that and get to the trade deadline around .500, then perhaps reinforcements will be on the way for the stretch run both in the form of trade additions and Davis returning to action.
Others have been stepping up
When Davis went down in the first half against the Nuggets, I chalked that up as a loss for the Lakers. Not only were they going against the reigning MVP in Nikola Jokic, but the Nuggets also opened up a 10-point lead early in the third quarter in the wake of Davis’ departure.
From there though, a lot of different Lakers players stepped up and the result was a blowout win over Denver. Then on Sunday night, the Lakers picked up another win over the Washington Wizards without Davis, and again, the “others” stepped up.
Chief among them is Thomas Bryant, who is taking Davis’ place in the starting lineup for the time being. Although he has his limitations, he has proven to be a player that can bring energy on both ends of the floor.
He scored a season-high 21 points against Denver and then followed it up with 16 points and 10 rebounds against Washington, including the game-winning dunk with seven seconds to play.
Guys like Bryant, Austin Reaves, Dennis Schroder and Troy Brown Jr. getting more playing time and expanded roles should only help the Lakers moving forward. If they struggle then the organization knows what it needs to address at the trade deadline. But if they thrive in their expanded roles and then the Lakers add a healthy Davis to the mix a month down the line? Look out!