One drive. One drive was all it took to cast a dark pall over the Los Angeles Lakers season.
With seven minutes left in the Lakers regular season opener against the Houston Rockets, the Lakers' prized rookie power forward Julius Randle began another dribble drive to the basket, as he has done thousands of times before throughout his life while playing basketball. In real time, it happened almost too quickly to see: Left leg colliding with right, the big man tripped over himself, a fluke injury that is the fault of no one. Even almost a day later, it's hard to process. As unfair as this may be, this freak accident will likely end the former Wildcat's season.
With so many hoping for, and the Lakers desperately needing big things to come out of Randle's maiden voyage, this injury blocked a great deal of the sunshine during what is now even more likely to be a dark campaign. Even with all of that established, the world is not ending, and neither is the Lakers' season. There are still 80 games left to play, so what are some silver linings in this indisputably dark cloud?
No need to quickly sign a replacement
One positive in the wake of this injury is that the team does not need to rush to sign a replacement player like Jason Collins or Byron Mullens off the street. The Lakers had a logjam in the frontcourt, and while if there was one player most fans would have wanted to protect from injury it would have been Julius, at least the team is somewhat well equipped to deal with his absence from the rotation during this season.
Another tiny positive in this scenario is that it will likely force Byron Scott to give Ryan Kelly some playing time, which could help with floor spacing, but more importantly, Kelly's continuing development. It is clearly more important for the franchise long term to be developing Randle, but with that option off the table for now, at least the organization has another young potential future contributor to plug in for some minutes.
The injury should not affect Randle long term
Speaking of lower body injuries, there was also some worry leading up to the NBA Draft that Randle's foot had not healed properly from an earlier break and would need surgery. That did not come to pass, and the foot is now reportedly fine and not a source of any complaint. However, if the foot was the source of any weakness or small discomfort, it too will now be given additional time to heal and be strengthened along with Randle's leg during his rehabilitation.