The Los Angeles Lakers have a long way to go before they reach the kind of success we believe they are capable of achieving. They are a 29-38 team fighting for the ninth and final play-in position. It’s hard to say what they could be with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in peak physical condition, but it’s safe to say it would be better than what they currently are.
Could They Possibly be Competitive Enough to Knock off a Team Like the Phoenix Suns in the First Round of the Playoffs?
Potentially, we’re on the cusp of discovering. The Suns will almost certainly end up as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference, while the Lakers, assuming they win their play-in game, will almost certainly end up as the No. 8 seed (they would have to win the 7-8 play-in game to be No. 7, but that seems unlikely given that they currently trail the No. 8 Clippers by an effective five games with the Clippers holding the tiebreaker).
If this occurs, the Lakers will likely welcome Davis back into the starting lineup. In spite of missing the last four games with a mid-foot sprain, Davis recently told reporters (via ESPN) that he is “extremely hopeful” that he would be able to return this season.
Is Phoenix the greatest team in the NBA this year, and if the Lakers get Davis, might they make a run at the Suns? Or maybe not even enough to guarantee them a playoff berth.
When asked about the Suns’ blowout loss on Sunday, LeBron James stated, “AD absolutely helps, but it’s not the answer to all [our] concerns.” The Suns have been playing without Chris Paul since the All-Star break.
Davis, on the other hand, is haunted by the fact that the Suns advanced past the Lakers in six games in the first round of the 2021 playoffs, and he feels that there is unfinished business between the two teams.
The series was tied 2-1 when Davis went down with a groyne injury in the middle of Game 4, and the Lakers never recovered. The Lakers’ season ended with the three losses. Davis, though, claims that he “knows” the Lakers and Suns would be in a different position had he not been injured.
They were able to get away with it. That’s a pretty incendiary comment, and you can guarantee the Suns will put it up on their bulletin board for the next time they play the Thunder. However, AD could very well be correct. Anyone who saw the series would agree that the Lakers had a legitimate shot at taking it. Both LeBron and AD were plus-46 in their respective minutes in the Lakers’ two victories in Games 2 and 3.
The Suns, though, should not be discounted lightly because they were within two victories of the NBA Finals in 2021. In any case, the Lakers of this year are a very different squad from the Lakers of 2021. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma are no longer on the roster. They have Russell Westbrook, but for how much longer can we secretly hope that the 2021-22 Thunder will improve upon the team that we saw the year before?
One day we might get an answer. A rematch between the Suns and the Lakers in the first round is also very possible. Davis may now have an opportunity to prove himself.