When an MRI confirmed Brook Lopez suffered a moderate right ankle sprain during the Dec. 18 game against the Golden State Warriors, the Los Angeles Lakers projected their starting center would be sidelined for three weeks and be re-evaluated at that point.
Lopez was placed in a walking boot that has since come off, and a mere nine days after the injury, he was on the court shooting prior to Wednesday’s game with the Memphis Grizzlies. While it’s a step in the right direction, it’s not to be interrpreted as a sign of marked improvement.
“The last time I went and looked at his ankle, he’s got color up and down it,” said Lakers head coach Luke Walton, adding “not much” had changed with Lopez’s timeline. “I knew he was going to shoot [Wednesday].
“Shooting stationary jumpers and playing at this level, trying to run up and down up the court, it’s nice to have him back on the court but he still needs to go through full practices and all that stuff before we even think about getting him back.”
Lopez has battled foot issues previously his career, including to his right foot. But the 29-year-old appeared in a minimum of 72 games in each of the past three seasons. As it currently stands, the best-case scenario has Lopez returning in early January.
In his first season with the Lakers, Lopez is averaging 12.8 points, 4.3 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game, while shooting 44.4 percent from the floor and 29.7 percent from behind the arc. He’d started in each of the Lakers’ 28 games prior to suffering the injury.
Andrew Bogut has started at center in the five games Lopez has missed to this point. A move that has coincided with Kyle Kuzma bumping Larry Nance Jr. to the bench.
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