The Chicago Bulls have gotten off to a 3-2 start this NBA season and are certainly suffering from not having point guard Lonzo Ball, while Zach LaVine is also out.
The start, of course, is still decent. The Bulls are coming off back-to-back wins and just beat 2021/22 NBA finalists, the Boston Celtics, ahead of Friday’s clash with the San Antonio Spurs. But Billy Donovan would be a lot better off having a full squad at his disposal.
LaVine is recovering from offseason knee surgery and isn’t quite ready to return, while Ball remains out. The latter had an arthroscopic debridement procedure to clean up loose cartilage and, according to his father, LaVar Ball, there is nerve damage.
It appears Ball’s recovery might last another year, which is a very bad outlook for the Bulls, though they have just about enough to be a threat in the Eastern Conference. They’re currently 28/1 to win the East this season and fans could take advantage of Illinois sportsbooks promo codes on that front.
Donovan recently addressed reporters on Ball’s recovery but had no real update to give. The head coach has been speaking about the guard at every turn, while he’s been visible on the team bench during home games this season. He is getting close to the date noted for re-evaluation and putting together a plan that would see him return to the court.
The former OKC coach could only speak to the player’s optimism when he faced reporters on Friday.
“I have not heard anything as of yet with that,’’ Donovan said, per Heavy.com. “He’s doing good. He feels like he’s progressing. He’s pretty optimistic and positive about everything. I think the biggest thing with the surgery is the incision healing in order to continue to make progress, and I just don’t know how far along he is in that process.’’
This falls along what LaVar Ball said during an appearance on the Ball Facts podcast.
“They finally got in there and they did his stuff right” papa Ball explained. “He had something that was – some of the debris was caught up with a nerve or something like that in his leg. It wouldn’t allow him to bend it or whatever. He was giving much pain but he got all that situated now…I just came back from seeing my boy to make sure he’s good, stitches is out.”
While Ball remains on the fringes, second-year point guard Ayo Dosunmu will benefit from the absence and should enjoy satisfactory minutes this season. The player has an opportunity to build chemistry with his coaches and teammates and has already upped his averages from last season, while improving his offensive and defensive ratings by at least six points for every 100 possessions.
Dosunmo is playing 31.8 minutes a game, averaging 12.6 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 3.6 assists a contest. He has credited Ball for helping him become better.
“He told me about…the pace of the game, and understanding where and knowing the personnel of my teammates,” Dosunmu said. “Just knowing where they like to get the ball at. Just being a student of the game. Managing the game.”
As long as Dosunmo continues to play at a high level, the Bulls shouldn’t have to worry about rushing Ball back. His father wouldn’t allow it anyhow.
LaVine has also spoken up for Ball, also noting his teammate is feeling good and getting better. It’s expected that Ball will get his starting job back when he comes back, simply because he’s back, which could cause some friction should it come to that. The other way is also just as likely to cause some controversy, yet the Bulls do seem to have each others’ backs.
“It’s tough, man, because he worked so hard,” LaVine remarked “He’s in a good place right now. He’s getting better. And, I know guys have been talking about it all summer but let’s understand, he wants to be out here more than anybody else. And, you know, nobody wants to be injured. And it’s tough…having people talk about it each and every day – when you’re going to be back, when not.”
Donovan continuing to speak about Ball’s good attitude in what has to be a distressing time for the player is important for the fans. There’s a long season ahead and the team is off to a good-enough start, though not as good as the hot start they got off to last term.
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