Given his stature as a player, not to mention his importance to the Chicago Bulls‘ playoff hopes this season, updates on injured point guard Lonzo Ball have been shockingly sparse.
And while we still don’t have anything new in terms of an official statement from the team or its medical staff, head coach Billy Donovan did drop a few nuggets on the situation ahead of Friday’s bout with the Orlando Magic. He did so eagerly, too, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, “as if there was something positive to report.”
For fans hoping for an early return for the Bulls’ floor general, though, the update wasn’t exactly one to pop the champagne over.
On the contrary, it probably served as confirmation in the eyes of those who have been fearful of another lost season in the Windy City that the Bulls’ odds of returning to the playoffs in 2022-23 are exceedingly long.
Donovan Still Doesn’t Have a Timeline for Lonzo’s Return to the Court
Asked about his point guard’s status in the hours before Chicago’s 16th Ball-less game of the season, Donovan noted that there had been an uptick in activity recently. However, the Bulls play-caller was careful to note that Ball was still unable to perform some of the most basic functions required for playing basketball.
“It’s going slow, but he’s doing more, he’s doing more and he’s doing more,” Donovan said, via the Sun-Times. “He’s still not obviously running, but he’s doing different things that he couldn’t do before.”
Concerning the 25-year-old’s timeline for a return, Donovan revealed that, well… there isn’t one at this juncture. At least, not one that he can talk about, which should come as no surprise considering how physically limited Ball apparently still is.
“Until he’s running, jumping or cutting, I just don’t know how far away [he is].”
Ball’s latest surgery occurred in late September, at which point there was hope that he would be back at some point during the new campaign. While that hope remains alive and well, there’s no telling whether the Bulls — who had lost five of their last six games heading into Friday — will still have time to salvage their season when/if he returns.
Ayo Struggling to hold Down the Fort?
If one were forced to identify some kind of silver lining in Ball’s absence, the obvious choice would be that it meant big-time minutes for de facto starting point-man Ayo Dosunmu. And through Chicago’s first several games, the hometown hero looked to be making a Tyrese Maxey-esque, year-two jump.
More recently, though, he has struggled to be a consistently positive presence.
Over the five-game stretch preceding the Orlando game, Dosunmu averaged nine points, three boards and three assists per outing while shooting just 42.9% from the floor and 22.7% from three.
His on/off numbers were even worse, though. In a combined 148 minutes over that span, the Bulls were outscored by a whopping 83 points with Dosunmu on the floor. And his offensive and defensive ratings were the worst marks teamwide (at 96.4 and 122.3, respectively).