The Los Angeles Lakers are in trouble, but this time it's kind of real trouble. LeBron James is out for at least a couple weeks with a painful high ankle sprain. Anthony Davis is still out with a calf strain. It's not a question of if they'll slide in the Western Conference standings, but how far. Jay Williams thinks they could end up in the play-in tournament.
A more realistic possibility is that they slip to the No. 6 seed. From there they would immediately become the most dangerous six-seed in NBA history if LeBron James and Anthony Davis return.
To fall all the way to the play-in tournament is probably too far-fetched. Yes, they could be horrible for the next few weeks without LeBron and AD, but to lose that much ground and be passed by that many teams is incredibly unlikely. There is just too much that could go wrong for any of those other teams.
It's fun to imagine the Lakers in a one-game playoff with a team like the Warriors or Grizzlies with their entire season on the line, but it just isn't going to happen. No matter what, LeBron James will walk through that door again. AD too probably. However many games it takes, it doesn't really matter.
It's like imagining the injuries being bad enough to keep them out so long it doesn't matter. That the Lakers without LeBron and AD are so bad they completely miss the playoffs. Then you can ask whether signing LeBron was even worth it. Yeah, they won a title last year, but it wasn't in front of the fans so it doesn't really count. Now the Lakers are stuck with two injury prone veterans.
That's not going to happen either, but I'm sure Skip Bayless is already doing that math.
So the Lakers will probably slide a little and end up as a lower seed. LeBron will get healthy. Anthony Davis will get his version of healthy. The Lakers will probably go deep into the playoffs. People who asked questions like "could the Lakers miss the playoffs?" will be deservingly mocked.