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Lakers News: Backup Center Out Two Weeks with Knee Swelling

Feb 13, 2024; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward Christian Wood (35) drives past Detroit Pistons guard Marcus Sasser (25) and guard Troy Brown, Jr. in the first half at Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

No matter how many times the Lakers get close to figuring things out, injuries emerge to hinder their progress. A team that’s ninth in the West and 3.5 games back of the fifth seed will have to trudge on without another rotation player. Backup big man Christian Wood is out for the next two weeks as he deals with swelling in his left knee.

With the Lakers’ rotation already limited, how does this impact them with 26 games to go, and who will need to step up in Wood’s absence?

Lakers News: Backup Center Out Two Weeks with Knee Swelling


Christian Wood has excelled in his role thus far. The 28-year-old center averaged 6.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 0.7 blocks per game prior to the All-Star break. He also shot 46% from the field, 30% from three and 70% from the free-throw line. After being out of the rotation for brief periods in December and January, Wood came back and responded well. Since returning to his role, Wood put up 6.1 points, 4.1 rebounds and one assist per game across 17 contests. He continued to make an impact that went beyond scoring, consistently crashing the boards and protecting the paint.

With Wood missing the first week of March at minimum, LA will need its frontcourt members to step up in a big way against elite competition.

Who Needs to Step Up?

Wood’s absence leaves a noticeable gap between Anthony Davis and Jaxson Hayes. AD has put together an award-winning-caliber season, but the Lakers have also succeeded because of the production behind him—and Wood has played a key role in that.

This is not to diminish the contributions of Hayes, who has certainly shown out at times during the year—for instance, his 16-point, 10-rebound outing against Boston. If anything, Wood being sidelined will allow the 23-year-old to display his skills in a larger role. In seven games this month (16.7 minutes per game), Hayes averaged 6.7 points, 5 rebounds, and 1.5 steals per game on 75% shooting from the field and 78% from the line. He showed flashes of how he could play going forward, and these next two weeks are a chance to prove himself.

There’s also a chance that the Lakers go small in certain lineups, relying on LeBron James or Rui Hachimura to create offense and protect the paint. Both have had experience playing the five in their respective careers as Lakers. Running small ball has led to mixed results for the Lakers, but it may be what’s needed in the short-term, especially in minutes without AD.

Speaking of which, the brunt of the offense will continue to run through Davis. The nine-time All-Star has averaged nearly 25 points, 12.2 rebounds and 3.8 assists on 55% shooting from the field. He has also made his case for Defensive Player of the Year, averaging 2.5 blocks per game (5th in the NBA) and nine defensive rebounds (second behind Domantas Sabonis). Wood’s absence should not (and will not be) an excuse to run AD into the ground with high minutes. It will only force other Lakers to step up behind Davis in an attempt to match his stellar production.

The Last Word

Christian Wood’s injury is another hurdle the Lakers will have to jump over. But judging by their performances prior to the All-Star break, that shouldn’t be a problem. Aside from LeBron and AD, expect Hachimura and Hayes to increase their production as Wood recovers, and look for other players to make an impact on the boards as well as the defensive end.


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