Despite Lonzo Ball being cleared for full contact, he has yet to play in the 2018 NBA preseason as the Los Angeles Lakers have lost both games to the Denver Nuggets.
While president of basketball operations Magic Johnson has said Ball looks “outstanding'” in scrimmages, the Lakers are still being patient after his offseason knee surgery. Ball was a full participant heading into the team’s third game against the Sacramento Kings, head coach Luke Walton said his playing status would be determined at shootaround.
Although not necessarily indicative of Ball’s health, the young point guard will not play Thursday night against the Sacramento Kings. “He’s getting closer,” Walton answered when asked if Ball was nearing a return.
“Our goal is to be patient. As much as we want him back, as close as he is, it’s us just being safe. We know how valuable he will be this year.”
Also being held out is Rajon Rondo. “We’re just resting him. I told him he’s getting old,” Walton joked at shootaround.
Brandon Ingram will start at point guard, with Lance Stephenson also receiving minutes there.
Since Ball will miss his third consecutive game, the hope is he can eventually return and develop some chemistry with his teammates prior to the start of the season. As the Lakers have played fast with Rondo, the style perfectly fits Ball’s skill set of rebounding and initiating the fastbreak or outletting the ball to teammates for easy opportunities.
With Ball getting stronger which has helped his shooting form, there are high expectations in his sophomore season. After averaging a near triple double, Ball’s ability to play off the ball and keep the defense honest will be key to the team’s success.