Lonzo Ball will make his Lakers preseason debut as he takes the court for the first time in 195 days that he will share with new teammate LeBron James on Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors. Ball missed Los Angeles’ first four preseason games as he recovered from arthroscopic surgery for an injury he sustained to his left meniscus.
“I’m just happy to be back,” Ball told the L.A. Sentinel. When asked if he had any nerves in his return, Ball replied matter-of-factly, “Nah. It feels like a long time.”
The Lakers No.2 pick in 2017, will be coming off the bench and could play between 10 and 30 minutes according to coach Luke Walton.
“For now it’s just getting him out there playing with the guys in the game setting, get comfortable with some of the new teammates he has,” stated Walton.
Ball has been a full participant in practices playing with the second unit against the team’s first unit. The medical staff cleared the second year guard right before the start of preseason, though he has not been hurried back to action.
“Yeah, it gets frustrating when you play basketball your whole life and then it gets taken away from you a little bit,” he remarked.
While Ball was sidelined by injury, he spent ample time rehabbing and conditioning which led to the point guard putting on at least 15 pounds since last year, where he was listed at 190.
“Now I’m 205, 210 [pounds] depending on the day,” stated Ball. The weight has enabled him to, “get to the basket easier, switch better, guarding bigs.”
Ball has not played in a game since March 28 against Dallas. He missed the final eight games of his rookie season. This time, he will take the court with one of the basketball players he grew up idolizing.
“When you’re drafted that high and you’re a local kid, people have seen you grow your whole life, so they expect you to be great every night so in that sense I can understand,” identified James.
James has sung the praises of some of the young Lakers core including Brandon Ingram. Lonzo Ball was added to his list after the three-time champion posted a practice photo of he and Ball captioned, ‘It’s about that time Young King. Let’s Get it, you was born for this moment!! #KingMe #Zo2
Ball described the anticipated dynamic when he and James share the court as, “very interesting.”
“We’ll be playing fast, so I’ll be getting the ball to him a lot,” said Ball. “He can do the same, get the rebound and push it.”
Walton assured that he will continue to shift lineups through the regular season. Though Rajon Rondo will start in the Warriors preseason game on Wednesday, Walton did not dismiss the idea of Ball starting during the regular season.
“Possibly,” Walton remarked simply. “Well it’s nice because they’re both selfless playmaking guards that make their teammates better.”
Ball expects to play against the Warriors in the Lakers’ preseason finale in San Jose on Friday barring any setbacks. Lakers guard Josh Hart (hamstring) is listed as questionable for Wednesday’s game.