Anthony Davis has been out 24 games for the Lakers with a calf strain and Achilles tenderness that Los Angeles is rightfully very cautious about. LeBron James also has missed the last 10 of those games with a high ankle sprain.
The Lakers reserves have gone 4-6 without both stars and kept the team’s head above water — they sit as the five seed as of this writing — but Los Angeles’ schedule gets tougher in the coming weeks, and a red-hot Luka Doncic and Dallas is closing in on them.
When will LeBron and Davis return? LeBron hinted on Instagram it’s coming soon — and to expect a “thunderstorm” when it happens.
The buzz around the league is that Davis may return next week, and LeBron is a week or two after that, but nobody really knows with soft tissue injuries such as these. Los Angeles can’t have the injuries linger into the postseason — this is a top-heavy roster where the Lakers need a fully functioning LeBron and Davis to have a shot. Los Angeles needs to be cautious.
That said, the Lakers absolutely could use their stars back to avoid falling any further back than sixth in the West.
Even with LeBron and AD on the court it is difficult to picture a “thunderstorm” — the Lakers have one of the toughest remaining schedules in the NBA (while the Mavericks, Clippers, and Jazz have relatively soft schedules from here on out). The Lakers are not going to get their stars back and simply flip a switch; it will be more challenging than that.
The final weeks of the NBA season in the West could be fascinating as teams at the top jockey to avoid the Lakers in the first round and try to get on the Suns’ side of the bracket — Phoenix, despite its second-in-the-NBA record, does not strike fear into opponents heading into the playoffs the way more tested teams do.