• The Los Angeles Lakers may find themselves in the play-in tournament with LeBron James and Dennis Schroder out
  • Lakers coach Frank Vogel needs to find someone to step up to keep their NBA title hopes alive
  • James is unlikely to return in 100% shape after re-injuring his ankle

It has been a rocky season for the Los Angeles Lakers with their top players dealing with injuries.

Anthony Davis and LeBron James have had their ups and downs and somehow, but the addition of Montrezl Harrell, Dennis Schroder and Andre Drummond have been their lifelines.

But the reality of it all is that these new guys are only helping the Lakers hold their heads above water.

Now that the NBA season is in the critical stretch, James and Anthony need to step up. By the looks of it, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel will have his work cut out.

Currently sitting sixth in the Western Conference, the Lakers could find themselves relegated to the play-in conference.

They are tied with the Dallas Mavericks and Portland Trail Blazers, and need to win as many games as they can, However, the road ahead will not be a walk in the park.

James is injured once more, and the Lakers keep on losing. They are on a three-game losing streak and have eight games left in their schedule.

Compounding their woes is Schroder missing some time due to health and safety protocols, ESPN reported. With two stars out, Vogel will need to dig deeper to keep their campaign afloat.

Aside from the manpower problems that the Lakers need to deal with, they need to hope for the best, particularly from other NBA teams.

The Mavs and the Blazers are playing with a sense of urgency, a reason why the Lakers could fall to the play-in tournament.

LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers r
LeBron James #23 of the Los Angeles Lakers Getty Images | Kevork Djansezian

Looking at the Lakers' schedule, their remaining games will be against the Nuggets, Los Angeles Clippers, Blazers, Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, Houston Rockets, Indiana Pacers and New Orleans Pelicans.

Their remaining opponents are no pushovers, something that Vogel and the Lakers should be concerned about.

As for James, the only thing certain is that he will sit out against the Nuggets. The four-time NBA champion re-aggravated his ankle, so it will be interesting when he can return.

But another reality Los Angeles needs to accept is that even if James does return, he will not be at 100%.