The Chicago Bulls continue to have concerns over the health of starting point guard Lonzo Ball, per a new report from The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. This comes on the heels of a video featuring Ball from a basketball court dedication ceremony in California.
It was a short clip of Ball shooting a stationary free throw.
But, at such a quiet time in the NBA offseason and particularly with the vagueness surrounding Ball, fans were excited to see him in action in any capacity.
This latest news, however, casts another dark cloud over an unsettled situation as the Bulls have made the necessary contingencies. How long could the Bulls and fans have to wait to see their star point guard?
Lonzo Ball Update
In some form or fashion, the standard response has been that Ball is “progressing” and they are “hopeful” that he will be ready for the start of the season.
Ball has been down since January 14 with a bone bruise and a torn meniscus requiring surgery.
ESPN’s Jamal Collier reported that Ball’s camp was expressing “some confidence” that he could be ready for the start of training camp. K.C. Johnson of NBC Sports Chicago reported something very similar a few days later.
Collier speculated that he could foresee a scenario in which the Bulls slow-play Ball’s recovery to ensure that he is fully healthy.
But Mayberry says Ball’s availability to being the new campaign “remains in question”.
He also points out that Ball has only managed to play in 65% of his teams’ games during his five-year career. That led to a challenge aimed at one of the most important figures on the Bulls’ roster.
A Challenge to Lonzo Ball
Three Bulls players were challenged to “step up” for the Bulls next season by Mo Dakhil of Bleacher Report. Ball was among them – along with Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams – with the challenge being to stay healthy.
Mayberry’s point on Ball’s missed games leads to a brutally honest take on the Bulls’ standing among the rest of the NBA.
Ball’s presence on defense has been well-advertised especially as the Bulls slid during the latter half of the regular season last year. But he is also one of their best three-point shooters on a team that was bereft of them.
A team losing its top playmaker is tough enough to overcome.
Losing their best perimeter defender and a sharpshooter would be difficult for any team. It proved to be insurmountable for the Bulls last season.
The Missing Piece
Ball shot a career-high 42.3% from beyond the arc last season. That was second to Williams on the team. But Ball also averaged 7.4 attempts from three to lead the Bulls. Ball also shot 42.2% on catch-and-shoot threes, third on the Bulls behind Williams and Zach LaVine.
He also tied with Caruso for the highest defensive efficiency differential on the team, per Cleaning the Glass, which ranked in the 96th percentile during the regular season.
Adding Goran Dragic will help keep the offense moving albeit at a lesser level.
But the trickle-down effect of losing Ball’s defense, playmaking, and shooting will again be tough to conquer if he cannot make it back onto the court to begin the regular season.