Bulls Training Camp Question: When will Lonzo Ball be healthy?

TECHNOLOGY

T.Throughout this week, NBC Sports Chicago will look at the four biggest problems facing the Chicago Bulls as they begin training camp.

First: When will Lonzo Ball be healthy?

“I’ll be back and play the full 82 games,” Lonzo Ball said in April, as he faced reporters after a post-season meeting with management and coaching staff, dispirited but determined. I will do whatever it takes to be ready to do it.” next year. “

Ball is visiting a specialist to try to find out the truth about intermittent but persistent discomfort in his left knee. he rested

There was progress, but it wasn’t linear. The ball situation is fluid.

But Ball’s goal of playing in all 82 games is likely well beyond his career-high of 63 of 72 games for the New Orleans Pelicans in 2019-20.

There’s a reason the Bulls haven’t officially and publicly given a timeline for Ball’s return since blowing the first one in six to eight weeks in January. I underwent arthroscopic knee surgery to repair the

They don’t know when he will come back. Everything seems to be fine when the ball is fine. Others, the discomfort flares up again.

A subplot of this story goes like this: Who will be the starting point guard when the Bulls begin their season in Miami on October 19? This is where the depth of the Bulls’ backcourt comes into play. is.

Ayo Dosunmu started in 40 games last season and, by all accounts, had a monster offseason in which he was significantly stronger. Alex Caruso started 18 of his 41 games last season and has lived up to his vow to add muscle to his lower extremities.

The Bulls also signed veteran Goran Dragic, 36. And there’s the oft-overlooked Coby White. He started 17 games last season and spent the offseason with his longtime mentor Chris Paul.

If Ball can’t answer the bell, the Bulls have options.

But no one on the roster can replicate what Ball brings. A simple argument can be made that he’s the most fully evolved two-way player on the roster.

From his ability to disrupt and read plays, to his quick hands and ability to gain deflection, Ball is a persistent pest of defense. His point-of-attack defense and position size disrupt pick-and-roll action and reinforce the defensive principles of the team behind him.

Offensively, Ball is one of the best players in the league at pushing the ball into the upcourt via passes. If you are healthy, you can also dribble for speed and sound decision-making. Coach Billy Donovan admitted the team’s play slowed when Ball, who had just played 35 games, didn’t play again after he underwent surgery in January. .

Ball also shot as high as 7.4 shots per game with a career-best 42.3% shooting percentage from the 3-point range. His ability to keep defenses honest and help clear up space on the floor for DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavigne is critical to offensive planning, especially for teams without three-point shooters.

The Bulls can weather the absence of Ball in the short term if needed. But management has relied on continuity and improved health to help the Bulls reach their full potential this season.

Ball’s situation is all too familiar for Bulls fans, and the point guard hopes his health improves so he can unleash his unique skill set again.

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