After a strong start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers’ season was derailed in part due to injuries sustained by Lonzo Ball and Brook Lopez, two crucial starters.
However, according to the latest injury update from the team, Lopez and Ball could be returning to the floor as soon as this week. They’ve both been cleared to return to practice, and are officially considered questionable against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday.
The Lakers’ defense has taken a deep dive since Lopez and Ball have been sidelined. Once a top-five defense, the Lakers are now ranked 15th in the league in defensive rating (105.2).
They’ve also missed the rim protection Ball and Lopez provide — yes, I said Ball, as in Lonzo Ball. Ball is second only to Lopez with one block per game, the most by a point guard not named John Wall. Lopez’s 1.6 blocks per game are also in the top-10 in the NBA.
The Lakers will also benefit from the two players’ ability to space the floor. While Lopez was still trying to get out of his shooting slump before going down with an inury, Ball was finally finding his groove, averaging 15.8 points per game while shooting 44.1 percent from the field on 6.8 attempts in his last five games.
Los Angeles has dropped nine of their last 10, so hopefully getting Lopez and Ball back will get the struggling Lakers back on track.
All stats are courtesy of stats.nba.com unless otherwise noted.