Lakers’ Anthony Davis: ‘I feel 100% healthy’ entering expected return vs Dallas on Thursday
For nearly nine weeks, Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis has sat in trainers rooms and heard nothing but bad news about his strained right calf. Finally, Davis had good news to share.
Lakers coach Frank Vogel confirmed that Davis will start in Thursday’s game against the Dallas Mavericks on a 15-minutes restriction presuming he does not feel any setbacks after completing a full practice on Wednesday. In what marked his first comments to reporters since injuring his right calf on Feb. 14 against the Denver Nuggets, Davis also offered promising updates on how he has healed.
“It feels good. I feel 100% healthy,” Davis said. “I feel great, especially with the rest of these games left.”
The Lakers (35-23) have 14 games remaining, and Vogel said that the team still does not have clarity on when LeBron James will return after missing the past 16 games because of a high right ankle sprain. Davis estimated “a couple of more weeks” before James returns. But while James has elicited plenty of optimism on how he will return because of both his skills and the nature of his injury, Davis enters his likely return on Thursday fielding question marks.
The first question? After missing the past 30 games, what will Davis’ transition look like? How many games will he be on a minutes restriction? How many games will it take for Davis to catch up on his conditioning and shed his rust? How many games will it take for Davis to replicate or exceed his season averages in points (22.5), shooting percentage (53.3%) and rebounds (8.4)?
“I think it takes multiple games,” Vogel said. “Honestly if you’re out for this long, it usually takes a couple of weeks, to be honest, to really feel you have your legs under you and you’re in rhythm and your rhythm and timing is back as well as working in new teammates. So it’s going to take some time. As far as the minutes restriction, it’s really going to be evaluated on a game-to-game basis based on how he feels. But it doesn’t feel like there will be too many games where he’s on a restriction."
The second question? Will Davis face any more complications with his injury? After he injured his right calf, Davis said he did not think that he had torn his Achilles. But he feared a partial tear after feeling what he called “a sharp pain like it was ripping that I never felt before.” After the Lakers targeted Davis to return within four to six weeks of the injury, both parties determined otherwise.
“It took a longer process. After four weeks, I was doing some test things on the leg. I had to stop because it was painful, whatever the reason may be,” Davis said. “I wasn’t ready. So just landing the process to make sure it’s completely healthy and healed before I can go back out and play. I revisited those same tests maybe three days ago, four days ago, and it felt completely fine.”
Davis has at least a handful of games to learn how to become the Lakers’ No. 1 option until James returns. The Lakers have gone 7-10 in James’ absence.
“Even when LeBron comes back, he doesn’t play 48 minutes,” Vogel said. “We have to win the minutes that he’s out. This has been an area that has been hit or miss for us the last two years – performing when Bron is out. So these extended minutes should be a silver lining in helping us be better in those stretches.”
Davis pointed out parallels toward last season where the Lakers had a fourth-month hiatus during the season shutdown. Though that led to inconsistent play during the team’s eight seed-in games, the Lakers performances improved during the postseason. Just like during the shutdown, Davis also had a chance to recharge both physically and mentally. Meanwhile, the Denver Nuggets’ Jamal Murray, the Utah Jazz’s Donovan Mitchell and the Nets’ James Harden have all experienced recent injuries.
“A lot of guys around the league aren’t healthy. A lot of teams aren’t healthy,” Davis said. “For us to be for the most part healthy, I’m getting back 100% healthy. I am 100% healthy. We got Bron who is coming back as well who is going to be 100% healthy. I think we’ve put ourselves in a good position.”
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