LeBron Or No LeBron, The Path Is Clear For A Lakers Playoff Slot | Here’s What They Need To Do

The Los Angeles Lakers are 31-34 and in 11th place in the Western Conference. They have a clear path to the playoffs, and it involves Anthony Davis playing like the two-way monster that he is.

Los Angeles Lakers can make the playoffs. (Photo: Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Anthony Davis Is Elite

This season Davis is averaging 26 points, 12 rebounds, and two blocks per game. The only player in the league averaging at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks this season.

He is +5.2 in EPM, which places him in the 97th percentile in the league. Very few players in the league have the two-way impact of Davis. He is a legit superstar.

The problem of course is his availability.

TNT’s Charles Barkley calls the Lakers star Anthony “Street Clothes” Davis, and in other circles he’s said to “lead the league in trips to the locker room.”

With LeBron James out for at least two more weeks, it’s now or never for Davis and the Lakers. He needs to play like the four-time All-NBA and four-time All-Defensive player he is.

Lakers Have To Beat The Teams Near Them In Standings

The Lakers have 17 games left on the schedule and need to win as many as possible. More importantly, they need to win every matchup against the New Orleans Pelicans, Oklahoma City Thunder, Utah Jazz, and Los Angeles Clippers. Those are the teams immediately behind or ahead of them in the standings.

At the beginning of the season, Davis had a month-long stretch where he looked like the best player in basketball. He will need to replicate that over these 17 games.

Over his last four games Davis is averaging 33 points, 11 rebounds, and three blocks. Dominant.

Davis needs to show the disposition to dominate on both ends of the floor. When teams go small he has to punish them at the rim and he needs to make the rim and paint a no-fly zone for opponents.

The Lakers must treat the next 17 games like it’s the playoffs. So, in essence, they are playing two extra rounds, if they want to actually qualify for the real playoffs.

Lakers head coach Darvin Ham knows the team must have a sense of urgency.

“We’re in this position,” Ham said after the team’s loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves on March 3. “We told our team, ‘We just have to take it one game at a time.’ We can’t be locked in for two-and-a-half, three hours out of a 24-hour day? I’ve been around this thing 26 years. Multiple championships. Multiple trips as a player and a coach to the postseason. If someone has to tell you that you have to be locked in. … Someone shouldn’t have to tell you to be locked in. We get paid millions of dollars. We do basketball for a living, which only takes, whether it’s a practice, a shootaround, a game, anywhere from an hour — sometimes 45 minutes — to two-and-a-half, three hours. A sport. …

“And we’re playing for one of the most recognizable, historic franchises on the face of the earth — the most. If that doesn’t motivate you to go out and try to be the best version of yourself, I don’t know what will.”

Not the kind of message you should have to deliver to a veteran team at this stage of the season, but here we are.

The Lakers have a clear path to the playoffs and Anthony Davis must lead the way.

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