The Los Angeles Lakers might have the most to lose if the 2019-2020 NBA season doesn’t return. With LeBron James playing at an MVP level and Anthony Davis potentially on his way toward winning the Defensive Player of the Year award, L.A. had been running away with the No.1 seed in the Western Conference.

Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert tested positive for COVID-19 on March 11 and the season was indefinitely suspended. Just a few days earlier, the Lakers won consecutive games over the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Clippers, their biggest obstacles in trying to win a title.

The Lakers are holding out hope that the playoffs and the 2020 NBA Finals will be played at some point this summer. With 95% of Americans under stay-at-home orders during the coronavirus pandemic, the team has had to be creative in trying to remain prepared for the season to resume.

Teams can’t practice or work out together in-person. Most players don’t even have access to a basketball court or a gym.

“The only way to get in basketball shape is playing basketball,” Lakers forward Jared Dudley said on “The Crossover NBA Show with Chris Mannix.” “You can do stuff to stay active to not potentially gain a lot of weight or any weight at all. But for us, even those skinny guys, to get in basketball shape you gotta play.”

Dudley hasn’t been able to play basketball for a month, and he estimates that most players are in the same predicament. He purchased a treadmill and has asked trainers for workouts that might best simulate playing in an NBA game. His weightlifting regimen has had to be adjusted.

“The Lakers did send a care package here that had a couple dumbbells of different sizes, a mat, a foam roller, a jump rope, bands,” Dudley told Mannix. “But that’s just the bare minimum.”

James is among the players that have been able to continue basketball activities. He visits friends who have private basketball courts, according to ESPN, and he trains in his personal gym four to five times a week.

Last year marked the end of James’ eight-season streak of consecutive NBA Finals appearances. Favored to win another conference title before the pandemic halted the season, James told reporters that he wouldn’t have closure if the season was canceled.

“I believe once [the pandemic is] under control and they allow us to resume some type of activity, I would love to get the season back going,” James said Wednesday on a video conference call. “I feel like we're in a position where we can get back and start to compete for a championship, get back to doing what we love to do, making our Laker faithful proud of us, of being back on the floor. And if it's in one single, isolated destination ... if it's Las Vegas or somewhere else that can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe -- not only on the floor, but also off the floor, as well -- then those conversations will be had. Just figuring out a way.”

The Lakers are 5.5 games ahead of the Clippers for the West’s No.1 seed, leading the conference with a plus-7.4 point differential. Ranking fourth in offensive efficiency and third in defensive efficiency, the Lakers are the only team with a top-four rating on both sides of the ball.

While the Lakers’ players and coaches can’t practice together, the team is finding different ways to stay connected and ready for a potential playoff run.

“This is the best chemistry I’ve had with a team,” said Dudley, who’s in his first season with the Lakers and 13th overall in the NBA. “The difference with this team is it’s one through 15. We have a group chat. We talk every day in the group chat.

“We have a Zoom meeting that we get to work out. And like I said, it’s bare minimum. It’s not really ‘doing’ doing anything. It’s more for the laughs. It’s more for the bonding. More just to say, ‘Hey, how’s everybody doing?’ To see people on there and, you know, say what’s up to (Alex) Caruso and (Kyle) Kuzma. That’s really what it is. From a training standpoint, it’s nothing better than you can do on your own. But it’s just more of a bonding. So for that, that’s the least of my worries. Chemistry: that’s the one thing we have over 99% of teams.”

If the NBA season does resume, it’s safe to assume that only a small portion of the remaining regular-season games, if any, will be played. The Lakers are currently on track to play the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the playoffs.

LeBron James / Luka Doncic
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers dribbles the ball against Luka Doncic #77 of the Dallas Mavericks in the first quarter at American Airlines Center on Nov. 1, 2019 in Dallas. Ronald Martinez/Getty Images