Coming off their title win, the Los Angeles Lakers had the shortest turnaround between celebrating their championship and defending it due to the coronavirus pandemic disrupting the NBA’s schedule.
As a result, the NBA shortened the 2020-21 NBA season to 72 games as opposed to the traditional 82 and a schedule that has been brutal.
Despite the rigors, the Lakers currently boast a 34-21 record and Los Angeles sits in fifth place in the NBA’s Western Conference standings despite not having their two-star players in the lineup.
LeBron James has missed over three weeks with a high ankle sprain and it is believed that the 17-time NBA All-Star and four time NBA Champion will miss roughly three more weeks recovering from the injury.
Anthony Davis has been out since February and has been dealing with a calf strain and tendonitis in his right leg. Davis should be returning soon. Worth noting: AD’s injury is the scariest type of injury to have.
While Davis and James have been on the mend, the Lakers added Andre Drummond in the buyout market.
Following a contract buyout with the Cleveland Cavaliers.Drummond, 27, is averaging 9.2 points and 9.2 rebounds per game since signing on with the Lakers. Drummond is adjusting to the rigors of playing in LA as noted by Lakers teammate, Kyle Kuzma.
“It’s a huge difference when you’re playing basketball and winning basketball,” Kuzma said recently.
“He’s handled it well, and it’s an adjustment period, and I think once the two big dogs get back, it’s going to be much, much easier for him because it’s going to be a lot more simplified. And you’ll see some big impact games from him down the road.”
With Davis and James returning soon, there will surely be an adjustment period for the duo with Drummond and other Lakers vets like Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Dennis Schröder, Montrezl Harrell and Markieff Morris in head coach Frank Vogel’s rotation.
The latest NBA Championship odds over at Sports Betting Dime suggest that the Lakers +350 could make a run at the NBA Finals again. However, teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Clippers getting looks as well.
Many like the Nets trio of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant and James Harden alongside first year head coach Steve Nash. Some aren’t as impressed.
“We are going for the past champs, the Lakers,” Philadelphia 76ers star Ben Simmons said recently.
“They are the ones that won the championship so you got to give respect to them. Brooklyn has a lot of talent but at the end of the day, there’s only one ball and you gotta play defense. So we got to come in prepared mentally.”
That’s big talk. But The 76ers have bragging rights after beating Brooklyn 123-117 at home on Wednesday.
The Clippers are still an intriguing entity. With a roster that already includes Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, Los Angeles made a trade deadline move in acquiring point guard Rajon Rondo.
A veteran and multiple NBA champion “He’s the smartest player that I’ve ever played with,” Rondo’s former Celtics teammate, Brian Scalabrine told the Scoop B Radio Podcast.
With many paying attention to the Nets, 76ers and Clippers, the Lakers appear to be underdogs. Can they prove their doubters wrong? “They have a chance to,” says NBA Insider and MSG Networks basketball analyst Brandon ‘Scoop B’ Robinson.
“LeBron James came to LA in 2018 and recruited everybody; you name it: Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Kevin Durant. Davis found his way out of New Orleans to LA after putting up great statistics as a member of the Pelicans and he made magic happen with LeBron. They won a ring in the bubble last season and they’re looking to win another ring this season with the motivation of being counted out by many who look at Brooklyn, the Clippers and the 76ers as a threat. I don’t bet against LeBron though. He showed you what time it was in 2016 when he was a Cleveland Cavalier against an unmatched Golden State Warriors squad. If LeBron James wins another championship this year, he’s going to have the best summer ever. He’ll have five rings, the same amount that Kobe Bryant and Magic Johnson have. Space Jam 2 also drops. Look out world!”
In the meantime, the Lakers play their rival Boston Celtics this evening and welcome their fans back into the building for the first time since last season when the coronavirus pandemic shut down everything. In the meantime, they’ll await LeBron James and Anthony Davis’ return before the NBA Playoffs begin on May 22.