Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball missed the team’s Christmas Day loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves with a shoulder sprain that will keep him out at least a week, the latest ding in what’s been a rough season for the rookie.
Ball has posted 10 points, 6.9 rebounds and 7.1 assists during his debut campaign, but while he’s shot better recently, his shooting numbers (34.9 percent from the field and 29.7 percent from 3-point range) on the season have left something to be desired.
Those numbers also don’t paint the whole picture of Ball’s impact. The first-year floor general has improved the Lakers by helping the team push pace and using his length to disrupt on defense, and the team will miss him while he’s sidelined.
But while the Lakers and Ball have looked to push pace at every opportunity on the court, they won’t be doing so off the floor as he recovers.
Instead, they’re going to be careful with Ball, something Lakers head coach Luke Walton made clear, via Bill Oram of the Southern California News Group:
“There’s no target (date) at least from my standpoint,” Walton said. “The only thing that matters with him is getting him healthy. There’s no reason to try to target a date and get him back. Obviously we want him back as soon as possible but big picture and what he means to us. We need him to be healthy so once he’s back he stays back.”
Ball said the shoulder didn’t hurt him until the day after he initially injured it against the Portland Trail Blazers, and he added the recovery process has been standard so far.
“Right now, I’ve just been icing it and resting it. Another week, they’ll look at it and see how it is, and go from there,” Ball said. He’s also optimistic he’ll make a full recovery.
“Just trying to stay positive and get back as fast as I can,” Ball continued. “It should be OK in a week, hopefully.”
Playing the long game with Ball is the smart move from a bigger perspective, even if it stings in the immediate future. The Lakers want to win games this year, but they want Ball to help them win for the next 10-15 years, something he can’t do if he develops chronic or nagging issues due to forcing himself back from injury too early.
Ball is expected to be re-evaluated on Sunday.
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