Blogtable: Should Lakers fans be concerned while LeBron, Davis are out?
Our scribes chime in on the state of the Lakers while their stars are on the mend.
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Without LeBron James and Anthony Davis (injuries) the Lakers are falling in the standings. Should Lakers fans be worried, or will everything be fine when the two stars return?
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Steve Aschburner: Fine. Forced to choose, at least, that’s how I see it playing out for the defending champs when they get their two best players back. Those guys and the teammates who mostly have held things together have muscle memory on their side. Davis’ skills are dominant, and nobody can get himself in playoff mode more quickly and thoroughly than James. The rest he and Davis got while healing will be of benefit for as long as their playoff run lasts — and I think it will last till the Western Conference finals at least.
Shaun Powell: Laker fans should remain in their traditional laid-back position. Nothing to see here. In a worst-case scenario, the Lakers are in the Play-In Tournament — so what? They’ve got LeBron and AD, both refreshed, and while a one-game elimination is always dangerous, the odds remain in their favor. Anyway, it probably won’t come to that. Realistically, the Lakers shouldn’t fall from the top six. The downside is LeBron and AD can’t take any days off down the stretch. As if they needed more of them.
John Schuhmann: They shouldn’t be too worried about how well the team is playing. The Lakers’ offense has been pretty brutal, but they’ve had a top-five defense since James’ injury. Their activity and interconnection on that end of the floor is consistently terrific, and it’s helped them stay afloat over the last 3 1/2 weeks. There will be at least six offenses better than that of the Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs, because their perimeter shooting (including that of Davis and James) is not great, but they can win another championship with how well they defend. The worry is the status of the two stars themselves. The word is that they’re on the path to a return, but there will always be a degree of concern until they’re back on the floor and 100% recovered, especially with an Achilles injury like that of Davis.
Michael C. Wright: They shouldn’t worry given the way everything seems to be unfolding in the Western Conference. Sure, when it’s all said and done, the Lakers could wind up sliding all the way down to the seventh seed and be forced to participate in the Play-In Tournament. But really, that’s not a bad scenario assuming both James and Davis return 100% healthy and ready to go. When you look at the potential Play-In opponents, there are teams such as Memphis, San Antonio, Golden State and New Orleans in the fold; all squads the Lakers are more than capable of beating. Plus, haven’t we all learned from betting against LeBron? His cryptic Instagram post gives off the impression that he and Davis are close to returning at full strength. Both will be motivated to capture the repeat.