Consequences Of Quick NBA Restart Has Stunted The Lakers’ 2021 Championship Hopes

The Lakers’ injury situation is a classic example of the unpredictability of sports and competition. And also why we can’t always make our analysis and decisions based on stats or what the projected outcome is on paper. 

Who would have thought that Anthony Davis and LeBron James would both suffer significant injuries that will keep them off the court for an extended period of time?

Golden State knows all too well how a potential dynasty can turn to dust due to injuries to the players that are the driving forces behind those championship-caliber teams. 

And once these guys get hurt and try to rush back for a playoff run, the risk of getting reinjured is increased.  Ask Klay Thompson.

Injuries occur during normal seasons with full camps and non-pandemic conditions, so the probability of a few superstars coming up limp this season, following a quick restart, is actually not surprising.

When the NBA decided to resume the season on Dec.22, just two months after an emotionally and physically taxing Bubble experience — especially for the teams who went far into the playoffs like the Lakers — we all knew that the possibility of some veterans (LeBron) and more injury-prone players (AD) getting hurt was a real concern. 

LeBron James expressed concern about the quick restart, but despite his caution, he was still among the league leaders in minutes. When AD went down, those minutes increased. 

The 8 teams that played in the Bubble are the ones that had a legit beef about the restart. They also happen to be the best teams in the league, so they are basically being punished this season for being elite. The players union resisted the December start and wanted to push it back to MLK day to allow players more recovery time. 

LeBron, at age 35, gave it more playoff minutes than everybody inside “The Bubble” besides Jimmy Butler and Anthony Davis. Without LeBron and Davis, the bubble would’ve produced a champion between the Heat and the Nuggets. Hardly a popular matchup among fans. The Lakers legitimized the entire operation and helped the NBA prevent over $1 billion in losses.

But fast forward five months later and our worst nightmares have come true. 

James got injured in the loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday (99-94) and will be out indefinitely for the Lakers with a high right ankle sprain.

At the same time, Anthony Davis has been sidelined since mid-February with a right calf strain and he will be re-evaluated again in the coming days.

Entering last night’s loss to the Suns, Phoenix (27-13) and the Lakers (28-14) were 2.5 games behind league leaders Utah Jazz (30-11).

It’s going to be challenging for the Lakers to close out these last 30 games strong without the assistance of their two future Hall of Famers. Who knows how far they fall without their two best players. 

It’s just sad that it’s come to this. The NBA wanted to get its Christmas revenue, right after making a killing in the Bubble when they probably shouldn’t have had a season during a pandemic in the first place. With the revenue as the bottom line, there would inevitably be collateral damage. 

The Lakers wouldn’t change anything because if they had the chance to trade an NBA championship for a lost year, they’d probably take it. It’s just tough when you knew back in December that some of the game’s best players might not make it to the finish line. 

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