Lonzo Ball has not played since Jan. 13 while dealing with a sprained left MCL, and while the Los Angeles Lakers have been quick to shoot down the severity of his injury, he’s not expected back until sometime after the All-Star break. He may even miss this weekend’s Rising Stars Challenge.
Head coach Luke Walton provided the latest non-update on Tuesday:
? Luke Walton gives an update on Lonzo Ball's status heading in to the back-to-back, and discusses Brandon Ingram's hot 3-point shooting pic.twitter.com/BXcmLOnYuj
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) February 13, 2018
Here’s the transcription of what he said, for the video- and audio-impaired (via CBS Sports’ Colin Ward-Henninger):
“He’s sill a little sore, but he’s still making good progress,” Walton said on Tuesday. “We’re not going to play him tomorrow — with a back-to-back and a week off after that — the progress is great, but it just doesn’t make sense to risk it right now.” . . .
“I would assume [Ball won’t play], but I guess that’s undetermined,” Walton said. “I don’t know who makes that call, but he’ll be out for our two games.”
The Lakers have two games left on their docket before All-Star Weekend, against the New Orleans Pelicans and Minnesota Timberwolves. Not having Ball obviously stinks, but they rank 15th in points scored per 100 possessions since he went down, according to NBA.com—compared to 27th overall on the season.
That doesn’t mean they’re better off without Ball. We’re working with a smaller sample size. Plus, even if that’s true, it doesn’t matter. They need to groom and develop the 20-year-old. Allowing him to work through the growing pains, even at the expense of the analytics, is the only way to do that.
Meanwhile, on a semi-related note, injury bugs are attacking All-Star Weekend participants with unsettling frequency. Team LeBron specifically has been ravaged by injury, with members Kevin Love, John Wall and Kristaps Porzingis already warranting replacements. LaMarcus Aldridge is currently dealing with a knee injury as well. Aaron Gordon has also already pulled out of the dunk contest, and now we might have Ball missing the Rising Stars Challenge.
One word best sums up all this bad luck: Oof.