Somehow, the Lakers season is not even halfway over despite it feeling like there have been about three or four seasons in one. A slow start, starts and stops, winning streaks, and an Anthony Davis injury all have occurred in the opening 40 games.
The good news is that the Lakers appear to be playing their best basketball of the season so far as they approach the midway point. A five-game winning streak has them rapidly approaching the play-in and playoff race, all that coming despite missing Anthony Davis.
That it’s come with AD sidelined is a point that can’t be overstated. A number of factors have played into that, ranging from LeBron James’ brilliance to Thomas Bryant’s emergence. The end result is optimism within the Lakers that a playoff push is coming once AD returns, according to Chris Haynes of Bleacher Report in his latest article.
With the emergence of Thomas Bryant in Davis’ absence, the Lakers are optimistic that they’ll be even better once whole and poised for a playoff push. The Lakers are 17-21, sitting 12th in the Western Conference standings.
At 19-21, the Lakers have not only forced their way into the play-in game discussion, they’ve played their way to within at least a game-and-a-half of as high as the sixth seed in the Western Conference ahead of the Clippers game against Atlanta on Sunday evening. It says a lot both about the run the Lakers have gone on to get back into contention as well as how bad the conference is this year.
In theory, AD’s return would only serve to allow them to further make a push. There’s obviously the possibility of them actually making a trade, which LeBron is openly clamoring for at this point.
The other issue at hand is that the date of AD’s return is completely unknown. The team is more playing things by ear, and while signs are encouraging so far and he’s returning to the court for the first time since the injury, it’s still an undefined timetable everyone is working with.
Nonetheless, the team has put themselves in a place to feel optimistic about their postseason hopes. That feeling alone is something that the team hasn’t had in quite a while and is encouraging enough as is.