The Los Angeles Lakers are finally set to open up the regular season as they host the Los Angeles Clippers Thursday night. This also marks the highly-anticipated debut of rookie point guard Lonzo Ball.
The second overall pick in the draft has the keys to the Lakers’ franchise and everyone will be watching to see how he performs in his debut. Of course there had been some questions as to whether Ball would be able to suit up tonight.
After spraining his ankle in the second preseason game, Ball missed the remainder of the preseason and missing that amount of time definitely hurts his stamina. This is why Luke Walton said that Ball is probably only in good enough shape to play about 25 minutes via Bill Oram of the OC Register:
Luke Walton said Lonzo Ball is probably in good enough shape for 25 minutes tonight and is “not nearly in the shape he’s going to be in.”
— Bill Oram (@billoram) October 19, 2017
Walton had previously spoken about the minutes of his young players. While there is no strict minutes restriction on anyone, he doesn’t want to just play guys 40 minutes every night and wear them out.
For Ball in particular, Walton simply feels that his conditioning isn’t where it should be since he missed so much time in the preseason. This makes sense and Walton will undoubtedly be keeping a close eye on Ball as he needs him to push the tempo and it’s hard to do that if you’re tired.
As Ball gets his legs back under him his minutes will certainly go up as he looks to be the key to the Lakers’ up-tempo offense. For tonight, however, he may not see quite as much playing time as many would hope.