As the Los Angeles Lakers jockey for playoff positioning, not everyone is buying the idea that things will click once LeBron James and Anthony Davis return to the court. Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes recently described the Lakers as “vulnerable” heading into the playoffs and believes Los Angeles will be challenged by teams like the Jazz, Suns and Nuggets. Haynes added that the Lakers will need to be careful playing against “young legs” in the postseason.
“I feel like the Lakers are vulnerable for all the things you just mentioned, particularly them [Anthony Davis and LeBron James] coming back at the tail end of the season, trying to carry a team,” Haynes noted on the Posted Up podcast. “And not just coming back and being able to coast, they’re coming back with meaningful games. When they get back in the season, these are meaningful games. They got to make some ground up in these standings, and maybe they feel, I don’t know, maybe LeBron and A.D. feel like, ‘Man, look, I don’t care if we are seventh or eighth [seed]. Man, I’ll take down Utah. I’ll take down Denver.’ I just think with those young legs that Utah, Denver and Phoenix has, I just don’t think that’s a good combination for the Lakers, I don’t.”
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There Is ‘Some Hope’ Davis Could Return to the Court in Mid-April
Haynes is concerned about the potential ramp-up period both Davis and James could need after recovering from their injuries. The Lakers are currently the No. 5 seed in the Western Conference but just 2.5 games away from dropping down to the No. 7 seed where they would be in the play-in tournament. The New York Times’ Marc Stein reported there is “some hope” Davis could return after the Lakers’ Eastern Conference road trip which would be mid-April.
“There is some hope within the organization that he will return to the lineup after the Lakers’ five-game Eastern Conference swing underway, but any injury that involves the Achilles’ tendon, no matter how purportedly mild, is going to spook people until Davis gets back on the floor,” Stein detailed. “Achilles’ tendon injuries remain the most feared in the sport.”
Haynes’ Message to the Lakers: ‘Sooner or Later Those Young Legs Will Lap You’
James’ widely projected return timeline for his high-ankle sprain has been four to six weeks which would put the Lakers star back on the court at the end of April, at the soonest. Haynes is skeptical that the Lakers will be able to flip a switch once the team is finally back at full strength. The Lakers will also need time to adjust to a new starting lineup with the addition of Andre Drummond.
“Who would I favor? I would definitely favor, betting odds, I would definitely favor the Lakers just for the championship DNA, the veteranship,” Haynes continued. “But one thing about youth, is that sooner or later, young legs will lap you. Y’all can start at the same time, start, race, go, everybody run! You can last with them for the first four laps, but sooner or later those young legs will lap you. And I don’t know if the Lakers are going to get lapped this season, but I don’t like the matchup. I don’t, I really do think that the Lakers are vulnerable this year.”