The Los Angeles Lakers will finally get the guy who should be their starting point guard back. Lonzo Ball has been cleared to play in the game on Wednesday night against the the Golden State Warriors, though we don’t know to what extent he’ll participate.
News of Ball’s return came courtesy of Ball himself.
Lonzo just said he's playing tomorrow.— Harrison Faigen (@hmfaigen) October 9, 2018
How many minutes?
"They haven't told me yet," but he did say it would be less than 20.
As the Lakers have long maintained, Ball will be on some type of minutes restriction, so it’ll be interesting to see whether Walton opts to start him so as to get him as many minutes alongside LeBron James as possible.
When asked exactly how many minutes Walton plans to play Ball, he said “however many I play him, which will be between 10 and 30. Right in between there somewhere.”
Walton said Ball won’t start, but if Ball plays the majority of his minutes with the starters, the hope is that he can offer more predictable ability defensively to help that group get out and run as much as they’ve seemed to want to.
With Ball not starting, he can hopefully bring some kind of steadying presence to a second unit that has not looked good thus far in the few preseason games the Lakers have played thus far. When James (or, interestingly enough, JaVale McGee) hasn’t been in the game, the pace has noticeably slowed, something that hurts a bench unit that’s played small. And there’s really no point in going small if you aren’t outrunning the opponent.
While Ball is finally back on the court, I wouldn’t read too much into what we see from him in his first couple appearances. It’s been quite some time since he last played in a game and is coming off of surgery, so chances are, he won’t be pushing himself too much.
What this does mean is that moving forward, we can keep a close eye on how the various groups look with the Lakers’ two point guards and which combinations make the most sense moving forward.
More importantly than anything, though, is the fact that Lonzo is finally healthy. Let’s hope he remains that way for the foreseeable future.