One of the biggest question marks about the resumption of the 2019-20 NBA season is how the layoff will affect different teams. Some, like Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers, have benefited from players returning from injury. Others, like Victor Oladipo and the Indiana Pacers, may end up suffering from the break in momentum.
There are two sides to the coin when it comes to the layoff that will be nearing five months by the time games resume on July 30. On one hand, players have theoretically lost any game-speed conditioning they developed over the course of the season and have potentially been limited in their on-court basketball activities. On the other hand, the rest allowed players to nurse any nagging injuries and get their bodies healthy for the stretch run and the playoffs.
The Los Angeles Lakers are as top-heavy as any of this season's title contenders, so their hopes are intrinsically tied to the health and performance of their two superstars, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. James said back in March that the rest factor was "overblown," and that the prolonged break might actually end up hurting him, but on Thursday Davis expressed the opposite sentiment, saying that he's "100 percent healthy" and the team's title chances have improved due to the rest.
"I think our chances are higher because we're all rested," Davis said, via Lakers.com. "We're all ready to go. If anything, our chances got higher, and it's going to be about who wants it more. Everybody had a decompression of the season … it's about which team wants it more and which team can stay healthy."
It's fair to point out that every team is rested at this point, but it's also reasonable to say that the Lakers could gain more from their stars being rested than other teams, even with the absence of Avery Bradley, who has . James had played in 60 of the Lakers' 63 games while averaging just under 35 minutes per game. Davis had been banged up all season, missing eight games due to a glute contusion, sprained ankle and soreness in both his knee and shoulder.
Meanwhile the Clippers and Bucks, the Lakers' expected chief competition for the title, have been implementing rest measures all season long. Kawhi Leonard has played in just 51 games this season at 32 minutes per game, while Giannis Antetokounmpo has averaged fewer than 31 minutes in his 57 games. So it's certainly possible that the Lakers will benefit from the rest slightly more than their rivals.
"We were definitely hitting a mark where we were playing a lot of games in a lot of days, and trying to solidify that first place spot in the West and even overall," Davis said. "We were playing a lot of games, a lot of minutes, and it's been more about letting everything rest and heal on its own."