Los Angeles Lakers rookie point guard Lonzo Ball has had an up and down first season in the NBA. He’s shown the flashes that head coach Luke Walton hoped to see, and his all-around game has been on full display. That is, when Ball has managed to be on the court.
It’s that last part that has been one of the most unfortunate parts of this season. Ball has played in only 52 games this season due to different injuries with the latest being a knee contusion that has kept him out of the last two contests.
Wednesday night will make it three as Walton said that Ball will miss the game against the Utah Jazz and won’t play again until there is no pain in his knee, via Tania Ganguli of the L.A. Times:
Lonzo Ball is out for tonight and most likely tomorrow. His knee still hurts. With so few games left in the season, he won’t play until it doesn’t hurt, Walton said.
— Tania Ganguli (@taniaganguli) April 3, 2018
It is the qualifier that is most important, as Walton refuses to push his young players to return quickly from minor injuries, prioritizing their long-term health. The Lakers are out of the playoff hunt so there is no point in risking turning a minor injury into a major one.
Ball is very important to the long-term success of the Lakers. His playmaking has been huge for the team all season and he has been a positive on the defensive end as well. His shooting has been more down than up this season, but his impact on the team is undeniable.
With Ball, Brandon Ingram, and Isaiah Thomas all being out, Walton has had to rely on the likes of Alex Caruso and Tyler Ennis to feel the playmaking void. Injuries have really forced players to be on the court for more minutes than preferred and threatened a rough end to what has been a promising Lakers season.
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