With LeBron James and Anthony Davis set to potentially return Friday night and their team’s margin for error all but gone, this is finally the moment of desperation where the Lakers can showcase why they believed in this roster in the first place. Whether they will or if they even have a puncher’s chance is another thing altogether, but it’s at least possible with those two back in the fold.
This week on “The Hook,” Aaron Larsuel and I tried to figure out how much a chance we’re willing to give the Lakers, but we had to start with a few thoughts on The Slap. Sorry, we just couldn’t help ourselves.
From there, we tried to set expectations for what we’d like to see not just from James and Davis in their return, but also the organization as a whole.
Look, with all due respect to veterans like Trevor Ariza, Avery Bradley, Wayne Ellington and Kent Bazemore, they’ve been pretty abysmal for the Lakers this year. Hell, Carmelo Anthony and Dwight Howard have both had moments, but for the most part, they’ve performed as one would expect a couple past-their-prime stars to perform. Same basically goes for Russell Westbrook.
The only players who have actually exceeded expectations this year have been the team’s youth. They’re likely the only people who have a chance at being with the team next year. So why not focus on them these last six games to see how they’ll fit with James and Davis in more optimized roles?
Why not see how Talen Horton-Tucker functions with the ball in his hand and more space than Westbrook can offer him when they’re on the court together? Why not see if Wenyen Gabriel can play with James and Davis to harken back to the bigger, stronger, faster team that won a championship? Why not give Austin Reaves and Malik Monk the chance to prove they belong as the Lakers decide on their next direction?
We know what it’s looked like while the Lakers have waited for veterans to find their footing. It’s been depressing as hell, honestly. So if the team is going to end this season with any organizational momentum whatsoever, it’s going to happen because their youth finally got the chance they’ve earned themselves. Why not ride that out?
Aaron and I discussed that, our tiers of contenders, and how he just can’t let go of the Lakers’ puncher’s chance this season.
And for a short-form recap pod, check out Lakers Lowdown, in which Anthony Irwin recaps the previous day’s news and gets you ready for the day ahead in LakerLand, every weekday morning on the Silver Screen & Roll Podcast feed.