3 reasons the Lakers should go all in this season despite Anthony Davis’ injury

Peter Dewey
8 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers have reached a real crossroads moment this season with star Anthony Davis going down with a foot injury.

Davis reportedly could miss at least the next four weeks with the injury, putting the Lakers in a tough position as they look to compete for a playoff spot in the Western Conference.

Los Angeles got off to a slow start this season, but Davis’ dominant play helped the team inch closer to .500 before he went down with the injury.

The Lakers are no strangers to Davis being hurt, as he played in just 40 games last season and 36 in the 2020-21 campaign.

The team still has LeBron James, who is playing at a high level, but the rest of the roster around James certainly isn’t good enough for the Lakers to truly contend if Davis is out for a significant portion of the season.

So, how will the team choose to proceed?

Will the Lakers decide to keep their assets (first-round picks in the 2027 and 2029 NBA Drafts) on ice now that Davis is hurt or will they use this as a reason to make a move to improve this roster to withstand his absence?

With James potentially in the twilight of his career, the Lakers owe it to him to at least attempt to compete for a playoff spot this season. However, this goes much deeper than just James.

The Lakers have not won a playoff series since they won the NBA Finals in the 2019-20 season. They missed the playoffs last season entirely, and they have built another flawed roster that isn’t made to hold up if one of James or Davis goes down.

This is a chance for the Lakers to partially correct some of their mistakes. They’re 13-17 on the season, and they sit just 1.5 games out of at least a play-in tournament spot in the West.

It’s going to be hard to replace Davis, who is averaging 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists and 2.1 blocks per game this season, but they can at least set themselves up to survive his absence and then make a run when he eventually returns.

Here are three reasons the Lakers should still go all in despite losing A.D.

LeBron is still playing at an elite level

Jakob Poeltl and LeBron James

James is having too good of a 2022-23 season to date for the Lakers to just go in the tank at this point.

The team knows that it has to make a move to truly contend for a deep playoff run, and it doesn’t even necessarily have to move Russell Westbrook to do so.

There are avenues that the Lakers could explore with Patrick Beverley and Kendrick Nunn to still bring more talent onto the roster in a trade.

Last season, James nearly won the scoring title for the Lakers, yet the team couldn’t even make the playoffs. He’s still playing at an elite level this season, averaging 27.0 points, 8.5 rebounds and 6.5 assists per game while shooting 48.5 percent from the field.

At some point, James is going to slow down, and he’s only under contract with the Lakers through the 2023-24 campaign. Why waste this season?

The team could make a deal to give him a running mate for now that would only make the team stronger when Davis returns.

The Lakers may have been able to get into the playoffs with just James and Davis if they both stayed healthy, but that scenario doesn’t exist now with A.D. hurt.

A player like James only comes around once in a lifetime. The Lakers would be foolish to punt a season of his career, especially after he brought a title back to Los Angeles in 2020.

Killing 2 birds with 1 stone

Kyle Kuzma

Some of the Lakers’ potential options in the trade market wouldn’t be strictly one-year rentals.

If the Chicago Bulls decide to blow things up, the Lakers could make a move for DeMar DeRozan, who is under contract beyond the 2022-23 season. The team could also trade for a player like Kyle Kuzma and re-sign him after the 2022-23 campaign.

Making a trade doesn’t mean the Lakers are only going all in for this season.

They have James under contract next season as well, so why wouldn’t they begin to create a better roster around him now to build chemistry for another season?

A move could allow the Lakers to still make the playoffs this year, and it would help them know their weaknesses going forward to build a better supporting cast in the offseason.

Trading the two first-round picks, or even just one of then, should be done with more than just this season in mind, with the caveat that it can lead the team to greater success once Davis returns.

The wide-open West

Anthony Davis and Lonnie Walker IV

The Lakers have gotten off to a slow start this season, yet they are just six games behind the Denver Nuggets, who hold the No. 1 spot in the conference.

The defending champion Golden State Warriors are struggling and now won’t have Stephen Curry for about a month due to a shoulder injury.

The Phoenix Suns have struggled at times early in the season, and Chris Paul is only getting older. The New Orleans Pelicans, Memphis Grizzlies and Sacramento Kings all have younger teams and limited playoff experience.

The Lakers have the ultimate equalizer in James, and there is no team that would willingly want to face him in a playoff series. Los Angeles may just need to get in to have a shot to make a run in the West, especially with no team looking dominant in the early going.

A trade doesn’t guarantee the Lakers a title, but it shows that the team is committed to trying to win now and in the future, rather than hoping everything goes right in the final year of James’ deal.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.