Unfortunately, it almost felt inevitable. The way Los Angeles Lakers star Anthony Davis was playing just felt unsustainable even for a player as talented as he is. But it isn’t a cold spell that is his undoing, it’s once again his body that seems to have betrayed the eight-time All-Star, four-time All-NBA selection, and 2020 NBA champ.
Davis has been diagnosed with a right foot injury that will keep him sidelined for at least a month, per Shams Charania of The Athletic.
The injury comes amid the Lakers’ recent stretch of above-.500 basketball.
That doesn’t seem like much for the 16-time world champs but it is a far cry from where they were to begin the year. It also highlights just how significant of a loss this is as they now lean on LeBron James for the foreseeable future.
Los Angeles Lakers Receive Devastating Update on Anthony Davis
Davis Out Indefinitely
“Davis underwent an MRI on Saturday after leaving Friday night’s victory over the Denver Nuggets and was still undergoing more evaluation Sunday with a specialist,” report Dave McMenamin and Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN.
The 6-foot-11 big man had averaged 33.7 points on 73% true shooting over the six games prior to going down after just over 17 minutes in Saturday’s win over the Denver Nuggets.
L.A. has rallied from a 2-12 start to sit just 1.5 games out of the Play-In Tournament field.
“An extended absence for Davis could have a devastating impact on the Lakers’ postseason chances,” explain McMenamin and Wojnarowski.
Davis is tied with rookie Max Christie – who has just 118 qualifying minutes – for the highest net rating on the team at plus-10.2, per Cleaning The Glass. When he has been at center, something he resisted for years, the Lakers are outsourcing opponents by 1.5 points per 100 possessions, good enough to rank in the 64th percentile.
But when they have him at his preferred power forward position, they are plus-41.4 points per 100 possessions.
Put simply, they need him to sustain their current level of play.
Can LeBron Still Carry L.A.?
Wherever one may stand on the NBA’s all-time G.O.A.T. debate, we should all appreciate what James has been able to do. That he is still effective at this advanced stage of his career speaks volumes about his longevity.
There might not be anyone more equipped to carry the load for a team while one of their top teammates is on the mend.
The question is how well will the rest of the group perform around him without Davis.
I think the Lakers season comes down to this:
Can LeBron James, in Year 20, keep the team afloat for one month without another superstar?
If he can muster .500 or something close, maybe the front office gets him help when Davis gets back. If not? Season is probably over.
— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) December 18, 2022
They are minus-4.3 with James on the floor without Davis. And when both stars are off the court, the Lakers are getting outscored by 12.7 points per 100 possessions which ranks in the 4th percentile. It seems pretty unlikely that they will suddenly figure something out barring an unforeseen trade happening well ahead of the February deadline.
This is nothing new for Davis. The 11th-year pro has missed no fewer than 20 games in each of the last four years since arriving in Los Angeles. There have been plenty of rumors regarding a possible trade out of Los Angeles if this season went down all the way South.
But, with two more years at over $83 million and his injury history, it seems unlikely they would ever recoup the requisite value.
That will be one storyline to watch as the Lakers go from finding their stride to regrouping.
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