The Los Angeles Lakers are going through a tough time right now. Can the Lakers repeat and win their franchise’s 18th championship has become a more difficult question to answer than it was at the beginning of the season.
Of course, it would be ill-advised to count out the potential of a Lakers repeat, but it does look unlikely right now. There are two main reasons why a Lakers repeat may not happen, injuries and chemistry.
Will Injuries Stop a Lakers Repeat?
It’s no secret that injuries are responsible for the Lakers being the seventh seed in the Western Conference. The Lakers were the second seed when Anthony Davis got injured on February 14. With LeBron James leading the charge, they were still high in the West, being the third seed after losing to the Phoenix Suns in their full first game without James due to his ankle injury.
James recently returned from his ankle injury, only to suffer a setback during the Lakers’ loss to the Toronto Raptors. He now will miss another week of action.
It goes without saying that the Lakers need LeBron James at his best if they are going to go far in the playoffs and even come out of the Play-In Tournament. James didn’t exactly reassure Lakers fans about his recovery either.
He said: “I knew I wasn’t going to get back to 100%. It’s impossible.” The four-time NBA Champion added: “I don’t think I will ever get to 100% in my career.”
Whether or not James is exaggerating, these comments are especially more worrying now that he has had to rest his ankle even more.
He is arguably the best player in the NBA, so the Lakers making it out of the West will not happen unless his ankle is as good as it was before the injury.
Of course, the Lakers are going to need Anthony Davis to stay healthy as well. He has recovered from the calf strain injury that kept him out for so long, but there were also issues with his Achilles.
Achilles injuries are unpredictable so all Lakers fans and Davis can do is hope he will be able to stay at 100%.
Davis has been receiving criticism for how he has played this season, as he has underperformed. It’s even harder to see a Lakers repeat if Davis doesn’t return to how good he was last year.
It does look like he is getting more comfortable on offense as the games go on. He is averaging 21.9 points and 8 rebounds a game this season. Last season he averaged 26.1 points and 9.3 rebounds.
He looked great against the Portland Trail Blazers, despite the Lakers losing in a close game. He dropped 36 points and 12 rebounds.
It looks like Davis is returning to the best version of himself whilst the Lakers are missing James and Schroder. Most recently he dropped 42 points, 12 rebounds, and 5 assists against the Phoenix Suns, in a dominant win for the Lakers.
He is improving game by game and this game in particular seemed like a statement, that he’s back to his best.
If Davis can stay healthy, and James returns to full health, a Lakers repeat looks a lot better than it does right now. But being healthy is only one problem they have, here is another.
The Lakers basketball has changed significantly because of injuries and who they acquired in the buyout market. They signed Ben McLemore and Andre Drummond. McLemore can slot in well with the team as he’s a shooter so doesn’t require many adjustments.
However, Drummond on the other hand is going to need time to play with James and Davis together. He and Davis have been improving them on the court chemistry as time goes on but they are going to need to adjust even more when James returns.
Dennis Schroder returning will also force the Lakers to make even more adjustments. After James’ injury, Schroder stepped up on offense.
He carried the ball a lot more and became an even better playmaker. Davis has said he is going to need to continue playing at that level when James returns.
The line-up the Lakers are likely to go with when everyone is available is probably Schroder at the point, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope as shooting guard, James at the three, Davis at the four, and Drummond as the center.
This line-up has only played one game together which of course is nowhere near enough and to be a championship team you need strong chemistry in your starting line-up.
Ideally, for a Lakers repeat, this line-up would have gotten enough time together once James returned from injury. However, James received a setback in his return, and Schroder will miss 10-14 days due to the League’s health and safety protocols.
Vogel will likely find his best rotations during the Play-In tournament and the playoffs if the Lakers have to go through the play-in games and make it out.
The Lakers repeat will be harder than what was thought at the start of the season. However, you can never count out LeBron James.
We all know how he takes his game to another level in the playoffs. Whilst the Lakers would wish they had more time together, they still will be one of the harder teams to beat due to James and Anthony Davis.
Main Image Credit: