Lonzo Ball to Make Preseason Debut in Vegas
After more than six months of recovery, Lonzo Ball is ready to hit the court again.
Ball — who has been a participant for the majority of the Lakers’ training camp — will make his preseason debut on Wednesday in L.A.’s exhibition against Golden State.
He will come off the bench in Las Vegas, but coach Luke Walton wants to see how he plays among groups of both starters and reserves.
“A lot of the time we spend in practice he’s been with the second unit playing against the first unit,” Walton said. “To be able to mix and match that a little bit, have them play on the floor will be good for him.”
Ball hasn’t played for the Lakers since March 28, and had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee in July. He said it was the first major injury he had ever sustained.
“It gets frustrating when you play basketball for your whole life and then it gets taken from you for a little bit,” Ball said.
In lieu of on-court work, Ball spent the offseason adding muscle to his frame. He estimates that he added 15-20 pounds over the summer, now weighing between 205 and 210.
“You just get to the basket easier, you can switch better guarding bigs,” Ball said.
On Wednesday, Ball will run point for a Lakers offense that has constantly accelerated this preseason, ranking third in the NBA in pace with an average of 111.4 possessions per game.
Ball — who had the league’s third-highest individual pace last season (104.2) — looks forward to bringing his playmaking to a bench that has seen its share of struggles.
“I’ve been watching, we kinda take a dip when the second team comes in,” Ball said. “So hopefully I can help that out.”
With Ball coming off the bench, Walton will have Rajon Rondo start at point guard. The coach mentioned wanting to see both players alongside one another at some point, but also likes having the option to have at least one elite playmaker in the game at all times.
“It’s nice, because they’re both selfless, playmaking guards that make their teammates better,” Walton said. “Those are the type of guys we want on the floor. Most of the time, to be able to have at least one of those guys at the point is a big plus for us.”
Ball said that his conditioning still isn’t where it needs to be, but teammate LeBron James commented that it never seemed like Ball wasn’t at full health during training camp.
“Since he’s been on the floor, it doesn’t seem like he had anything done with his knee in the offseason,” James said.
James was Ball’s favorite player growing up, so naturally there is some excitement to them sharing the court for the first time outside of practice.
“We’ll be playing fast, so I’ll be getting the ball to him a lot,” Ball said. “He can do the same. Just rebound and push it. It’ll be an interesting dynamic.”