It’s been nearly two whole months since Lonzo Ball last took the floor for the Los Angeles Lakers, and while he’s scheduled to be re-evaluated in two weeks, it’s doubtful that he’ll play again this season.
If Ball doesn’t play again this season, he will have played less than 100 games in his first two seasons in the NBA. Last season, he was limited to just 52 games due to a knee injury that lingered on into the summer and eventually required surgery.
The timing of his surgery resulted in him spending the entirety of his first NBA offseason rehabbing and doing what he could in the weight room. To his credit, he did get noticeably stronger, but he was limited to what he could do on the court. Ball wasn’t cleared for basketball activities until October and missed all but two games of the preseason.
Now that he'll be healthy this summer, Ball is going to look to improve every facet of his game, as he told Shams Charania of The Athletic in a recent interview:
A summer ago, Ball dealt with a left knee injury that required surgery in July, restricting him from court-work and lower-body training. The focus this summer?
“Obviously, improving everything on the basketball court: My shooting, finishing,” Ball told The Athletic. “But for my body, working on my legs, and make sure they’re strong and ready. I didn’t get to do any leg work last summer. This is going to be a new summer, most definitely.”
Ball ended the season averaging 9.9 points per game on 40.6 percent shooting from the field, including 32.9 percent shooting from behind the arc. He also contributed 5.3 rebounds, 5.4 assists and 1.5 steals per game through 47 games. With the exception of his field goal and 3-point percentage, he regressed in nearly every statistic.
Because of that, Ball has quite a bit of room for improvement going into this summer, and he’s looking forward to the challenge of getting better:
“I’m very, very motivated,” Ball told The Athletic. “I want to be the best I can be. I’m looking forward to this summer. I don’t look at it as added pressure, because I haven’t had a full summer yet to dedicate to myself. I have to keep working on my craft. I’m just happy that I’m going to be healthy.
“It’s been frustrating. This is the second year that this has happened. But I have to stay positive, stay motivated.”
Ball’s first two seasons with the Lakers have been underwhelming, partially because of his injuries but also because his overall on-court production hasn’t been all that encouraging with the exception of a handful of scattered good games. Luckily, there’s reason to believe that addressing the former will help the latter.
Will he become the All-Star point guard the Lakers drafted him to be over one summer? No, but he’s already an advanced playmaker, rebounder and defender for his position. If he works towards addressing the holes in his game offensively this summer, he has the chance to be special. After two up-and-down seasons, that's still a great best-case scenario.