LeBron James is arguably the most durable player in the history of the NBA. However, time stood still as LA Lakers fans saw the phenom fall to the floor in pain after a collision with Atlanta Hawks' forward Solomon Hill on Saturday afternoon. James, the reigning Finals MVP, somehow managed to stay on and even knocked down a corner three but was ultimately forced to leave the game.
Thankfully, the X-ray results on his ankle revealed there was no fracture, although an MRI done later has diagnosed James with a high-ankle sprain. He has since been added to the list of injured players, severely hampering the LA Lakers' title defense.
With Anthony Davis reportedly away for another two weeks, Frank Vogel's side will have to find a way to stay afloat without both of their stars.
3 reasons why the LA Lakers should be worried about LeBron James' ankle injury
The recovery time from such an injury ranges from two to three weeks if the condition is not that severe. However, in the worst-case scenario, the LA Lakers swingman could be out for five to six weeks.
With the 2021 playoffs set to commence in about nine weeks, it is safe to say the LA Lakers are facing the toughest challenge of the campaign. In this piece, we will take a look at how Lebron's untimely injury could affect the rest of LA's season.
#1 The severity of the injury and how it could affect LeBron James' MVP caliber season
LeBron James has certainly been the Iron Man of the NBA in his time as a professional basketball player. Now in his 18th year in the league, the legend has finally shown signs of fallibilty. That said, his injury does not appear to be one that could drastically change the trajectory of his career, let alone of the on-going campaign.
From what we know about his history playing the game, LeBron will undoubtedly make his return to the floor as soon as humanly possible. However, will still be able to dominate opponents with his MVP caliber prowess? The answer is an emphatic yes.
Die-hard LeBron fans know the obsessive way in which he takes care of his body. Lakers fans can rest assured that the 'Chosen One' will continue to dominate the game and will be making strides in the postseason. The real concern lies not with James' impending return but how the LA Lakers squad performs in his absence.
#2 The LA Lakers risk slipping behind the top four teams in the Western Conference
The biggest threat facing the LA Lakers title defense is how the rest of the cast performs in LeBron James' absence. The LA Lakers were already facing a difficult time with Davis on the sidelines, now with James out for presumably a few weeks means the stakes have risen for all new and old faces in the LA Lakers' roster.
The Western Conference is no picnic, with several teams boasting high-caliber stars in their lineup. With the loss to the Hawks where James got injured, the LA Lakers dropped to 3rd place in the West, one spot behind the Phoenix Suns. The LA Lakers can't afford to start losing games as they are only 1.5 games ahead of their cross-town rivals, the LA Clippers.
Frank Vogel will need to rally his troops with a team-first mantra to weather the storm till their stars return to the action. The LA Lakers will need Dennis Schroder to elevate his game to an All-Star level. Besides Dennis, the team will look to Montrezl Harrell and Kyle Kuzma to step up to the plate and generate offense consistently.
The defending champs could also benefit from their reserves Markieff Morris and Talen Horton-Tucker rekindling their form as the team navigates through this tough stretch.
#3 Father time finally catching up with James and what it means for his future with the LA Lakers
Father time is catching up late with the 36-year-old. The ankle injury LeBron James suffered against the Hawks is the second significant one affecting him over the last three seasons. No matter how talented a roster James finds himself on, his team undoubtedly relies on him the most. This becomes more evident in the postseason, where victory without him is seemingly impossible.
The 4x NBA champ has been successful in defying father time till now but it remains to be seen how far he can push his limits. The perennial All-Star is averaging an impressive 25.4 points, 7.9 rebounds, and as many assists on a terrific 51% shooting from the field in 41 games for the LA Lakers this season.
If we compare a healthy LeBron James at this stage of his career with other greats of the past, he is by far the most effective. He is still leading the LA Lakers as the undisputed floor general and has always played the role of Batman with this star teammates.
However, time waits for no one, and even someone as great as LeBron James will find it increasingly difficult to maintain these astounding numbers when facing the next generation of superstars.