Can LeBron James keep the Lakers afloat without Anthony Davis? | Good Word with Goodwill

Yahoo Sports senior NBA reporter Vincent Goodwill and senior NBA writer Dan Devine discuss how the power forward's foot injury will put more pressure on the superstar - as Los Angeles tries to climb back into the Western Conference playoff picture.

Video Transcript


VINCENT GOODWILL: We're going to start with the team that we always seem to start with on any NBA-sanctioned podcast, the team that LeBron James plays on. And that team happens to be the Los Angeles Lakers, and not because of anything LeBron did, but because of, arguably, their best player, Anthony Davis, being out for the next month, at least, with an ankle injury.

Now, I've never seen someone twist their ankle in midair, cause that's what it looked like happ-- it looked like he twisted his ankle in midair Friday night against Denver. And Anthony Davis, for all of the street clothes, nicknames, half man, half a season, everything else, he's been playing ball, Dan.

And for him to miss a month with the Lakers climbing back into, I won't even say relevancy. They're climbing back into mediocrity. What do you think this means for them if Anthony Davis is out for just a month? Because they said he will be re-evaluated. So this could be longer than a month, depending on how Anthony Davis heals or doesn't heal.

DAN DEVINE: I think that we're gonna find out in the next month how much LeBron believes there's still a chance for this season. You know, when we first talked about the idea of, you know, how do they get out of this hole, a month ago, a handful of games into the season, I was of the opinion, like, you got to burn the boats, you got to put everything you have into this season. Because you only get so many LeBron James near prime seasons. The entire structure is built on this idea, LeBron plus AD, plus whatever else is gonna win us a championship or get us close.

So if you built that up, even if it's a lie, we fight on that lie, right?


DAN DEVINE: Where we move in this--

VINCENT GOODWILL: Shout out to Slim Charles.

DAN DEVINE: --for this organi-- the man had some wise words. And Anthony Davis, he gave you the proof of concept for why you do that, why you put the chips in the middle. Because if you get the AD that we got, playing center, mothballing and his jump shot, and just getting right to the rim, you get the LeBron that we've got over the last dozen games since he came back, right under 29, 8, and 6, you know, high efficiency from the floor. That's good enough to put a scare into anybody in the West.

And so the question is now, Anthony Davis is out for a month. Does LeBron think that what he saw over the last dozen games or so, the position that they're in now, where they're a couple of games out of the play in berth, only maybe, like, a 15% to 20% chance to make the postseason, depending on which models you look at, does he believe there's enough there to be worth treading water? Cause if he does believe that, we might see a hellacious month from LeBron James. And if we don't, we might see some chill season, wine on the bench kind of LeBron James for a little while.

VINCENT GOODWILL: You say-- it's funny. We naturally assume that LeBron has this next level to go to. Like, LeBron will turn 38 on December 30th, I believe.

DAN DEVINE: Right, yeah, yeah, right before New Year's.

VINCENT GOODWILL: But LeBron, I believe, can rev it up. And I have a theory. And I've heard this from a couple of executives that I've been talking to, even before this injury happened. Talking about players who, influence winning, compared to players who drive winning.


VINCENT GOODWILL: And there's a fine line between the two. And I think LeBron might be the single most influential driver of winning we've ever seen. I don't know if he's capable of being that every-night driver of winning. That's not to say he can't do it on a night. I don't know if he can do it every night on call and then still leave room on the back end of this, whenever Anthony Davis does come back, and leave something in the tank.

Because he signed for that extension, you know, before the start of the season, ensuring that he's gonna be in LA, you know, probably for the rest of his career, at least until maybe Ronnie gets in or whatever, I think he's gonna think long term. He has to think long term, even if that long term isn't very long.