Out of sight and out of mind seems to be how the pipe dream pundits view LeBron James and Anthony Davis as they pimp James Harden, Joel Embiid, Rudy Gobert, Nikola Jokic, Paul George, and other wannabe champions.
The doubt and disrespect is rampant as it seems the NBA has forgotten just how good LeBron James and Anthony Davis are as they write off the Lakers’ chances of repeating as NBA champs and cheer on the same casts of losers. This has become the anybody-but-the-Lakers season as the media pushes the same perennial losers and underachievers like the Clippers, Jazz, Suns, 76ers, Bucks, and Nets while ignoring the defending champion Lakers.
Well, a rude wake up call is coming as Anthony Davis and LeBron James are nearing return. As this manic, injury filled season staggers to the finish line, the Lakers are preparing to unleash a healthy and rested LeBron and AD. Like last year, the Lakers will have to quickly come together and get ready for the playoffs but they will again have a defining competitive advantage because LeBron James and Anthony Davis will be fully rested and healthy.
How important are LeBron James and Anthony Davis and how will their rested and healthy return help the Lakers? Recall LeBron James was the near unanimous leader in the MVP race before injuring his ankle a month ago. With the shortest offseason in pro sports history and a compressed 72-game schedule, LeBron James getting a month and a half off could be a blessing in disguise just like the 4 month layoff he got during last year’s suspension.
The story is much the same for Anthony Davis, who was struggling with a nagging calf issue after the 2020 NBA Finals and throughout the first few months of the season before the Lakers finally shut him down in February. With the memory of Kevin Durant’s calf injury turning into a torn Achilles, the Lakers opted to take a very conservative approach and gave AD over two months to recover to make sure he was 100% healthy before playing again.
Meanwhile, the Lakers have surprisingly adjusted and persevered, winning 7 of the 15 games without James and Davis, carried by double digit scoring from Schroder, Kuzma, Harrell, Drummond, Morris, and Caldwell-Pope. During the 15-game stretch without LeBron and AD, the Lakers’ defense still ranked 4th in the league and their bottom five 3-point shooting jumped into the top half of the league with 12.2 makes on 33.7 takes for 33.7%.
A Lakers roster learning how to win without LeBron James and Anthony Davis should be scary for the rest of the NBA, especially if they remember how well LeBron and AD played at both ends in last season’s playoffs. LeBron averaged 28.2 points, 11.1 rebounds, 8.4 assists, 1.3 steals, 0.9 blocks per game shooting 55.4/34.5/71.0% while Davis averaged 27.2 points, 9.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists, 1.1 steals, 1.3 blocks per game shooting 56.7/37.5/88.2%.
The Prospect of a fully rested and healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis as the Lakers head into the playoffs should strike fear in the hearts of the pretenders who’ve somehow forgotten how good their two superstars are. The silver lining to this injury plagued, Covid distorted, compressed season for the Lakers is LeBron and AD are going to be healthy and rested like they were last season after the league was suspended for four months.
Teams like the Clippers, Bucks, Jazz, and Nets who think they’ve got a good chance to win it all this season need to remember what LeBron said after the Lakers won the championship last season after being rudely disrespected. Pointing his finger, LeBron said: “We just want our respect. Rob wants his respect. Coach Vogel wants his respect. Organization want their respect. Lakers Nation wants their respect. And I want my damn respect too.”
So buckle your seat belts, Lakers fans, because LeBron James and Anthony Davis are going to fully rested and healthy and looking to remind the rest of the NBA who are still the best two players and best team in the NBA.
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