He may never become a true All-Star caliber player, but he is the type of multi-faceted role player many teams would like to have.
He is a very solid defender, a good passer and ball-handler who can up-tempo the game and a strong rebounder for a backcourt player.
Ball has also become a good 3-point shooter over the last few years.
But there have always been reg flags associated with him, and perhaps the biggest is his injury history.
After undergoing knee surgery way back in January, the 6-foot-6 man is apparently still not even close to being ready to return, and he is not expected to suit up for the start of the season.
It seems the Bulls will be without Lonzo Ball to start the new season. 😔 pic.twitter.com/lvxPyWxHhi
— theScore (@theScore) September 2, 2022
At this point, his inability to stay healthy is threatening to derail what looked like a very promising career not too long ago.
Ball Went From Hyped To Hurt
During the 2016-17 season, Ball was the floor leader of the University of California, Los Angeles Bruins, averaging 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game.
He was also an efficient marksman at the college level, shooting 55.1 percent from the floor and 41.2 percent from 3-point range during his lone season in Westwood.
Objectively and especially in hindsight, Ball was a very good player in college, the type of player who is worth drafting with a mid-to-late first-round pick.
But his father, LaVar Ball, hyped him up a lot.
Magic Johnson, who was then the president of basketball operations for the Los Angeles Lakers, fell for the hype and took the younger Ball with the second pick of the 2017 NBA Draft.
As a rookie, he quickly showed that he clearly wasn’t worthy of the hype.
LaVar Ball: “Lonzo Ball is better than Steph Curry.”
— NOTSportsCenter (@NOTSportsCenter) March 12, 2018
On one hand, he has dramatically improved his shooting form and his 3-point shooting accuracy, going from 30.5 percent in his first year to 42.3 percent last season.
On the other hand, Ball is not a skilled one-on-one player, nor does he possess tremendous athleticism that would allow him to overcome his lack of basketball skills.
But he has compounded that with his many injuries.
As a rookie, he sprained his MCL in January, and although he was expected to miss one to three weeks, he didn’t return until well over a month later.
A knee contusion also cost him the final eight games of the schedule, limiting him to just 52 games on the year.
In his second season, Ball sprained his ankle in January, and what was expected to be a 4-6 week recovery period turned into him missing the rest of the season.
In the 2019-20 campaign, Ball, now a member of the New Orleans Pelicans, had better luck with his health, playing in 63 of the team’s 72 games, but the following year, he missed 17 contests.
The injury that is keeping Ball out right now is a meniscus tear that required surgery, and it was one that was expected to keep him out for 6-8 weeks.
But by then, as the Bulls ramped up his rehab activity, he experienced pain, and they decided to keep him out for the rest of the season.
Ball Cannot Be Valuable If He Can’t Play A Full Season
There’s an old saying that one’s best ability is availability, and Ball’s tendency to miss at least 20-30 games almost every season greatly cuts into the value he brings.
He is a starting-caliber NBA point guard, which is plenty of value, but no one really knows if he’ll stay healthy at any given time for the foreseeable future, and that’s a big problem for a team like Chicago that has championship aspirations.
The fear is that at some point, Ball may suffer a severe injury that could threaten the rest of his career.
But if he can shake off the injury bug, he can be a part of a Bulls team that will make noise every year in the Eastern Conference playoffs.