Coming into this game against the red-hot Utah Jazz, the Lakers were going to need a cohesive effort from everyone to come out with a win. But without LeBron James, who was a late scratch with a left ankle injury, hope has dwindled on picking up a win and getting back to even on the season.
“LeBron James is out tonight in UTA after turning his left ankle in the loss to PHX,” wrote Lakers insider Dave McMenamin in a post.
This is a pretty big blow for the Lakers, who have been struggling recently with both LeBron and Anthony Davis in the lineup. After scoring just 10 points in the loss on Wednesday, the feeling was that something wasn’t right with LeBron and those fears have been confirmed with this latest update out of Los Angeles. It’s next man up for the Lakers, of course, and Anthony Davis is more than up for the task of leading this group on his own. But this news isn’t a good sign for LeBron’s health this season. If he starts to miss time beyond this stretch, it could draw some serious doubts about the potential of this unit.
Lakers Fans Are Down Bad
For now, it’s just one game that LeBron is slated to miss but it didn’t stop Lakers Nation from panicking online. Once the news broke on Saturday evening, optimism for the game was completely eliminated and worry began to set in on what this means for the rest of the season.
Compared to last campaign, the Lakers are doing an admirable job staying afloat in the standings but they just keep running into obstacles that are bound to slow them down.
The bigger story in all of this is that if LeBron misses too many games, he could lose his eligibility for regular season awards. Today marks only his fourth missed game this season but can only miss 13 more before he’s disqualified from all award ballots.
For others, this latest move by LeBron could be a sign that some trades are on the way…
No matter what the situation is with LeBron’s ankle, the Lakers need him at 199% if they want any chance to come out of the West. In fact, if he’s compromised for any lengthy stretch of time this season, it could be enough to cause a total collapse for the Lakers.
A LeBron James Masterclass
As much as the Lakers have tried to empower Anthony Davis this season, LeBron James is still the one in control of this Lakers squad. This season, at 39 years old, he’s having a pretty stellar campaign so far with averages of 24.7 points, 7.6 assists, and 7.2 rebounds per game on 52.1% shooting.
So far, James has managed to stay healthy but if he starts to miss games down the stretch, it will make it difficult for the Lakers to catch up to the Western elites. But unless changes happen soon, the Lakers don’t stand much of a chance anyway as presently constructed. At this point, they shouldn’t need LeBron to show up every game for them to have a chance to win. Hopefully, tonight, they can show some sense of competence on the court without him — but the fans aren’t going to expect much from the Lakers unless the King is in uniform and playing at his best.