The Los Angeles Lakers have been without Lonzo Ball for all but two of their preseason games, robbing the team and fans from a chance to watch what the squad looks like with their starting point guard. He remains questionable to play against the LA Clippers on Friday in the Lakers’ preseason finale. but did participate in practice Thursday.
Head coach Luke Walton spoke to media once team activities wrapped up following Lonzo’s first practice back, and didn’t shy away from calling his new franchise point guard being out like it is when asked if he considered it a “setback” for the team.
“Yeah absolutely, it's a setback for sure,” Walton said. “They need that time on the floor together. The good thing for us is we do have a week from tomorrow's game to the [regular season]. That's a good amount of practice we'll get in, and as long as he's able to practice, we should be able to get in a lot of reps in scrimmage time to try to make up for that. “
The Lakers’ regular season opener isn’t until Oct. 19, which definitely gives them plenty of time to work on their game behind closed doors. Nothing simulates actual game action, though.
As far as what the Lakers are missing the most about Lonzo, it wasn’t just the fact that he makes the entire team “a threat at all times,” as Luke explained.
“The thing that makes him special, and that's the ability to make everyone on the court a threat at all times... that's a special skill that he has. We miss that, and that's not what affects us the most. What affects us the most though, is because we're such a new group and a young group, is the continuity of them playing together.
“When you play with passers like that, you kind of start to realize where you're going to get the ball, and if defenses are doing certain things I cut back door, and the whole continuity of playing with his teammates is what we've kind of missed out with him,” Walton said.
The Lakers have one game left to try and see how the team functions with Lonzo, and Luke was kind enough to give a pretty good picture as to what the team will be looking for from Ball before clearing him.
“He'd have to show up and say that [his ankle] doesn't feel any worse. There's still no swelling in there. Any tenderness at all, or if it got worse at all, it's not worth in my opinion getting him in there. Again, we'll sit down with him and the training staff in the morning, and figure all that out,” Luke said.
Anticipation to watch the new Lonzo-led Lakers was hardly containable leading up to preseason, and watching him play a total of 57 minutes was hardly enough to fill the appetite of us watching at home. Hopefully his ankle is feeling just fine Friday morning.
*All quotes transcribed via Lakers.com