The Los Angeles Lakers were dealt yet another injury Saturday night. Point guard Lonzo Ball suffered a sprained left ankle, and will miss between four to six weeks of action.
During the third quarter of the Lakers’ game against the Houston Rockets, Ball collided awkwardly with Rockets player James Ennis. Ball rolled his left ankle in the process, and stayed on the ground for the following possession.
Ball was carried off the court by two teammates, and reportedly left the arena in a wheelchair. X-rays of Ball’s ankle came back negative, and he has been diagnosed with a sprain. Ball’s injury is another blow to the Lakers, as LeBron James and fellow point guard Rajon Rondo are nursing groin and hand injuries respectively. James and Rondo however are expected to make their returns in the near future.
James has been out since Christmas day, suffering a groin injury against the Golden State Warriors. In that time, the Lakers have gone five and eight, and are currently outside the playoff picture at the ninth spot in the Western Conference.
Lakers coach Luke Walton has made it clear that he doesn’t want to rush back any players from injury.
“We won’t rush playing time at all,” said Walton to reporters following the loss to the Rockets. “We’ve got to make sure, with him and LeBron, that they’re healthy, so when they get back we can keep them.”
The Lakers’ decline seems to have caused anxiety for the team and their fans, as they had surpassed expectations until James went down. However, it is important not to rush back any players from injury, especially the best player in the league who happens to be 34-years-old. As long as the Lakers don’t completely fall apart without James they should still be in good shape. The race for the last few seeds in the west is wide open.
But Ball’s injury is not good news for the Lakers. So far this season, he has averaged 10 points, and over five rebounds and assists per game. While others in his draft class have stood out more, Ball is a well-rounded player who adds versatility to his team.
The silver lining of this injury is that the timing of it could have been way worse. With James and Rondo coming back in the near future, the impact of Ball’s injury isn’t as bad for the team. Had both James and Ball been out for a long period of time, the Lakers could have struggled much more than they have so far.
Even with Ball out until at least the all-star break, look for the James and Co. to keep the Lakers in the playoff picture. They will likely end up with the seventh or eighth seed come playoff time. While it may be difficult to deal with another injury, the Lakers will be okay. One thing they can’t do is rush anyone’s health.