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There is never a good time for an injury, but there are few times worse for a multi-week injury than the beginning of March. LeBron James is set to be out for a crucial stage of the Lakers season, even not accounting for the fact that they are playing from behind in regards to the playoff chase.
In recent weeks, there’s been plenty of discussion of the Lakers outlook this season as variables continue to change. And wouldn’t you know it, another variable has changed. This week’s SB Nations Reacts survey asks whether the team can survive in the coming weeks and potentially month without LeBron.
If this question had been asked a month ago, the answer would have been a resounding no. The team relied HEAVILY upon LeBron and there’s a fair argument to be made that they wore him down by how much they needed him to do.
But the Lakers revamped the roster at the deadline and the added bonus to that is the team is better balanced and no longer uber-reliant on LeBron. That’s not to suggest they won’t be hurt by his absence, but it should be a blow they can far better absorb at this point in the season than in earlier ones.
For example, someone like Rui Hachimura will likely see a big uptick in minutes, as will Jarred Vanderbilt. Malik Beasley is the type of player that can step up and provide some scoring punch. It’ll need to be a group effort, but there is a group of players now that can lift them up, something that wasn’t there before.
Is that enough to keep them afloat? I think so, but only if they all can stay healthy. It’s going to be a crash course in learning how to play with one another the rest of this season, but the talent is there and, perhaps most importantly, the Western Conference is very mid.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.