Anthony Davis did not play for the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, remaining on the sideline with an Achilles tendon injury.
Davis missed three games earlier this season, but what the team dubbed
“right Achilles tendonosis” is a new designation on the injury report.
His previous absences came during back-to-back stints for the Lakers. That is not the case for this matchup against the Thunder, so it appears to be about more than just load management, although he did play 45 minutes in a double-overtime victory against the Pistons on Saturday.
An Achilles injury is cause for concern, although ESPN’s Dave McMenamin reported that “the Achilles tendon is in good shape.” What is cause for concern is that Davis has been dealing with right leg discomfort for a while and hasn’t looked extraordinarily sharp this season.
He has had minor injuries throughout the year to his right leg before this Achilles problem–contusions to his quad, knee and calf, as well as an ankle sprain, plus a right adductor strain and a lower back problem.
That all adds up to a player who, coming off the shortest offseason in NBA history, is struggling to stay healthy and has had consistent problems with his right lower body, leading to the question of whether something bigger could be wrong.
Davis’ points (22.3), rebounds (8.6) and blocks (1.9) are all down this season, so while LeBron James has gotten plenty of praise for how he has carried the Lakers this year, one reason he has had to do so should be worrisome for the Lakers–Davis has only played like himself in spurts.
Davis did defend his play recently.
“A lot of people talk about my offense, and how this year has been a slow start and everything offensively, but I’m a two-way player,” Davis told reporters last week. “I don’t rely on offense for me to have a great season. I’m doing everything I can on the defensive end. … When you’re a two-way player, you don’t have to rely on one aspect of the game with just scoring. I can help my team win on the defensive end and make shots when I need to.”
Lakers Need Anthony Davis Healthy Down the Stretch
The Lakers have enough depth and talent on the roster that Davis doesn’t need to push himself to play a Monday night matchup against the 10-12 Thunder. When they need him at full strength is in the postseason, so finding a balance during the condensed 72-game schedule is key.
In the first seven years of his career, while playing in New Orleans, Davis missed an average of 15.4 games per season. He rarely had a major injury, but the consistent minor bumps and bruises that forced him to miss games worried the staff ith the Pelicans. He missed nine games last year, though one was the season finale, for rest.
Davis talked about the need to be smart heading into the year after the shortest offseason in NBA history.
“I feel good, body feels good, but at the same time I got to make sure the people around me, my training staff, my trainer, training staff, coaches, also be in my ear like, ‘AD, calm down,'” Davis told reporters. “I’ve been great doing practice. I’ve been in every drill, being in condition and getting back into the swing of things, but like I said, you want to be smart about it as well.”
Lakers Stars Against All-Star Game Plan
Both Davis and superstar teammate James will be All-Stars this season, which will likely mean a trip to Atlanta for the game the NBA is reportedly planning in March. James has been a vocal opponent of the idea.
“I have zero energy and zero excitement about an All-Star Game this year,” James, a 16-time All-Star, told reporters after the Lakers beat the Nuggets on Thursday. “I don’t even understand why we’re having an All-Star Game.
“[There was] a short offseason for myself and my teammates — 71 days — and then coming into the season, we were told we were not having an All-Star game so we had a nice little break. Five days from the 5th to 10th, an opportunity for me to kind of recalibrate for the second half of the season, my teammates as well, some of the other guys in the league.”
The league has been more lenient when it comes to absences in the COVID-era, but it’s unknown if the All-Star game would be mandatory like in years past. Davis, however, might have an excuse if his Achilles issues persist.