Anthony Davis hasn't played since Dec. 16 because of a foot injury, but the Los Angeles Lakers star took an important step toward his eventual return.
Lakers head coach Darvin Ham said Davis was "pretty much pain-free" following individual workouts that lasted from 45 minutes to one hour, per Mark Medina of NBA.com.
Injuries have always been a storyline in Davis' career.
The eight-time All-Star has never played more than 75 games in a season and appeared in 40 games in 2021-22 and 36 games in 2020-21. His absence this season is one reason the Lakers have dealt with inconsistency on the way to a 20-24 record.
Los Angeles will likely need him back to make any type of meaningful playoff run, as it is one game behind the 10th-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder for the final spot in the Western Conference play-in tournament.
Davis' injury was all the more difficult for the Purple and Gold to deal with this time around because he was playing at such an impressive level.
He averaged 27.4 points, 12.1 rebounds, 2.6 assists, 2.1 blocks and 1.3 steals while shooting 59.4 percent from the field and 29.0 percent from deep through 25 games. Had he remained healthy and maintained those numbers throughout the campaign, he could have been in the MVP discussion.
It is not out of the realm of possibilities that Davis eventually returns and helps lead the Lakers on a deep playoff run, especially playing alongside LeBron James. Perhaps the front office will even make a deal ahead of the deadline that would have the roster better suited to such an outcome.
For now, though, Los Angeles needs a healthy Davis back and in the lineup to even have a realistic chance at a postseason run.