Anthony Davis has missed the last 15 games the Lakers have played, and is set to miss a 16th on Sunday against the Pelicans while he continues to recover from the mid-foot sprain that has sidelined him since Feb. 16.
However, while the team has yet to set any official (public) expectations for a return date, it does sound like Davis is continuing to inch closer to getting back on the floor for his team.
“He’s ramping up activity,” said head coach Frank Vogel on Sunday before the team’s game against New Orleans.
Now it’s worth noting that as of Saturday, Davis was still not cleared for contact yet, and Vogel cautioned on Sunday that his star is obviously still “not ready yet.” Still, when questioned more specifically about what exactly constituted progress for Davis, Vogel offered a bit of hope while still keeping things mostly vague.
“Just more intense on-court work,” Vogel said.
But even if the Lakers are playing things close to the vest, this is just the latest sign that Davis should be able to hit the floor again before the postseason. The latest reporting from ESPN suggested that Davis was on-target for a return in the first week of April “at the earliest,” and the team openly admitting he is ramping up is another suggestion that such a timeline could be realistic.
The Lakers usually like to let a player get a practice in before returning, but they generally only practice when they have at least two days between games, and have no such stretches left this season. So when (and if) Davis does return, he may have to hit the ground running in an actual game that matters as the Lakers try to avoid falling out of play-in range entirely.
The Lakers still have two more games in March this week before an April 1 showdown with... these very same New Orleans Pelicans, followed by five more games left in their season, plus (likely) at least one play-in game. Having just a handful of games to get used to NBA basketball again after months away is obviously less than ideal, but it’s also the best-case scenario for Davis at this point, so the Lakers will surely take what little good fortune they can get during this mostly cursed season. It’s the only hope they have left.