On Aug. 8, 2021, Lonzo Ball was traded from the New Orleans Pelicans to the Chicago Bulls.
The trade details were as follows:
-the Pelicans receive Tomas Satoransky, Garret Temple, Chicago’s 2nd round pick, and cash
-the Bulls receive Lonzo Ball
Therefore, the Bulls take on his 4-year $80,000,000 contract.
At that time, Ball’s future was looking promising.
With the 2020-2021 Pelicans, Ball averaged 14.6 points, 4.8 rebounds, 5.7 assists, and 1.5 steals on 41.4% from the field, 37.8% from 3-point range, and 78.1% from the line.
While those stats may not seem to be great (or in some people’s eyes) good, it showed progress in comparison to previous seasons, in which he struggled quite a bit.
Lonzo Ball’s Initial Struggles
Within his Lakers’ seasons, his field goal percentage and free throw percentage were less than stellar. From Oct. 19, 2017, to Jan. 19, 2019, Ball averaged 10 points, 6.2 rebounds, 6.4 assists, and 1.6 steals on 38% from the field, 31.5% from 3-point range, and 43.7% from the line.
On top of those issues, he dealt with quite a few injuries including:
-a left shoulder sprain on Dec. 24, 2017
-a sore left knee on Jan. 14, 2018
-a bruised left knee on March 29, 2018
-an ankle injury on Nov. 9, 2018
-another ankle injury on Nov. 28, 2018
-a left ankle injury on Jan. 19, 2019
Also, he had to change his jump shot, which looked like this:
Despite those issues, the eye test showed that his vision and passing were good, and his defense was going in the positive direction.
Essentially, he was a diamond in the rough.
In 2019 offseason, Lonzo Ball was traded to the Pelicans. This gave Ball a fresh start and that it was.
While on the 2019-2020 Pelicans, he averaged 11.8 points, 6.1 rebounds, 7.0 assists, and 1.4 steals on 40.3% from the field, 37.5% from 3-point range, and 56.6% from the line. These stats demonstrated that his 3-point shot significantly improved but his overall percentage still needed work. But, again, it was progress.
Likely, that change in percentage was due to his jump shot change as shown below:
Before this change, his form didn’t seem to be working in the league.
As stated by Matt Ellentuck, his form’s mechanics made it difficult for him to make basketball moves and limited where he can shoot comfortably.
Basically, his shooting form made it “easy” to guard/hinder and his percentages showed the unfortunate result.
With this new jump shot, those issues seemed to diminish.
In addition to that improvement, the eye-test showed he kept his vision and passing ability. It even started to show on the stat sheet as 7.0 assists.
Also, he had the healthiest season of his career. Over the course of the 2019-2020 season, Ball only missed 8 total games:
-Nov. 9, 2019- Injury: Adductor
-Nov. 11, 2019- Injury: Adductor
-Nov. 14, 2019- Injury: Adductor
-Nov. 16, 2019- Injury: Adductor
-Nov. 17, 2019- Injury: Adductor
-Nov. 19, 2019- Injury: Adductor
-Nov. 27, 2019- Injury: Stomach Virus
-Nov. 29, 2019- Injury: Stomach Virus
Making his injury history, seem to be history.
Therefore, seeing his 2020-2021 stats along with his (in comparison) improved injury history (most of which listing Ball as “DNP-Inactive) made it seem like Ball was putting it together.
Lonzo Ball’s Short Rise
Towards the beginning of the 2021-2022 Bulls season, with Ball on the court, the Bulls recorded the record of 22-13. Of course, he wasn’t the only reason, the Bulls had scorers in LaVine and DeRozan and decent center play by Vučević.
Regardless, this was one of the best starts to a Bulls’ season in a while and, it looked like, at the very least, the Bulls would make some noise in the playoffs. Spoiler Alert: that would not be the case.
By the end of the season, Ball played only 35 games and the Bulls fell from one of the top seeds to a 6 seed. When the playoffs started, they lost to the Bucks in 5 games. So, what, happened?
Well, Ball’s knee issues crept up again and he underwent surgery for it.
Essentially, He was an integral part of this improving team so heavily impacted the team. But most Bulls fans and analysts brushed this injury off as a slight setback to a bright future. Unfortunately, that wasn’t what transpired.
By April 5, 2023, Lonzo Ball has gone through 2 knee surgeries and on March 16, 2023, it was reported that he will go through a third. Due to that surgery, it was reported that he’d likely miss most of the 2023-2024 season.
At this point, this has become more of a Bulls issue and more of a career issue.
It puts into question that, even if Ball becomes healthy enough to play, should he?
As a sports doctor would it be wise for Lonzo Ball to play NBA basketball again after going through all these injuries? What about the mental aspect of it?
Would Ball even be able to play or enjoy basketball with the constant anxiousness of getting hurt and rehabbing?
All in all, it’s hard to find answers to these questions but hopefully, Ball gets better soon. Whether he continues his basketball career or decides to move on from basketball, he will never be forgotten by Bulls fans.
Stay tuned for more NBA content, including midseason moves, contract updates, and more pieces about every team.
Featured image courtesy of skysports.com.
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