Lonzo '100 Percent Cleared,' but will Gradually Return to 5-on-5 Scrimmaging
With training camp only five days away, the Lakers shared some good news about injured point guard Lonzo Ball.
He will be ready for training camp on Tuesday, though the Lakers do plan to gradually bring him back to full participation, given that he spent the last two months recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his left knee.
“He’s been 100 percent cleared by our medical staff to return to full basketball activity,” General Manager Rob Pelinka said. “Because he hasn’t played NBA five-on-five for four or five months, there is — with any player who has surgery — a progression to come back. So he started that progression.
“He will participate in our training camp in everything other than five-on-five contact drills in the beginning, but will progress along that continuum and we’ll take it a day at a time. There’s no way to predict the future, but the fact that he’s 100 percent cleared and feeling good is great.”
While Ball hasn’t been able to participate in five-on-five scrimmaging, he has kept busy over the summer, with Pelinka calling him “one of the most committed guys this offseason.”
The most noticeable development has been his refined shot mechanics. At a glance, he appears to now bring the ball straight into his shooting motion, rather than swinging to the side on the way up.
In the ZOne pic.twitter.com/5VIcrw1Y3v— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) September 8, 2018
Pelinka called Ball’s form “more fluid now,” and said that he had many conversations with Ball over the offseason about focusing on his release, ball spin and shot arc.
President of Basketball Operations Magic Johnson said that it was Ball’s own decision to tweak his mechanics.
“His shot looked great,” Johnson said. “He’s gonna be ready to have a breakout season and build on what he did last season. There are only a couple things that he has to do better.
“That’s drive to the basket and finish, and get the mid-range … shot where he’s on balance. It’s not his shot — he just needs to be on balance.”
Meanwhile, Pelinka said that Ball will benefit from spotting up and getting higher quality looks from two elite playmakers, LeBron James and Rajon Rondo.
Johnson and Pelinka signed Rondo, in part, to serve as a mentor to Ball, who will have a season to watch film with one of the most intelligent players in the NBA.
“(Ball) started early,” Johnson said. “He was in the weight room. We asked him to get stronger and, man, he put in the time. Then the one thing that we were really blown away with is that he wanted to watch film. It can’t be us asking him to do that. He had to want it for himself.”
Ball, Rondo, Johnson and Pelinka had a four-man film session over the offseason, as they watched tape of the Lakers’ March game against Rondo’s Pelicans.
Rondo narrated what was going through his mind during each play, and Ball reciprocated. “And then you got the best point guard who’s ever played the game layered on top of that,” Pelinka said of Johnson.
“It was amazing to be in that room and hear these three point guards talk about the game and break it down.”