Chicago Bulls must figure out how to win without Lonzo Ball

Chicago Bulls Lonzo Ball (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports)
Chicago Bulls Lonzo Ball (Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports) /

If the Chicago Bulls are going to have a successful season, it’s clear that they must figure out how to win without Lonzo Ball.

Last summer, when the Chicago Bulls emerged from the offseason with DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, there were some that were hesitant about declaring it a success or not. However, the Bulls quickly proved that they had won the offseason.

In fact, on January 10 of last season, roughly midway through the 2021-22 NBA campaign, the Bulls had the best record in the Eastern Conference and the third-best record in the league overall.

However, during the second half of the season, something changed. Chicago no longer looked like the team that was leading the East standings in the first half of the season. And one thing that Chicago had to battle through, and clearly couldn’t, was injuries. And specifically one to Lonzo Ball.

The Chicago Bulls without Lonzo Ball

Ball injured his knee on January 14 and never played in another game the rest of the season. The hope was that he would only miss a few weeks but he ended up being sidelined through the playoffs.

Unfortunately, his struggles in recovering continued throughout the summer. So much so that he was forced to undergo another procedure on his knee recently. Ball will be reevaluated in a few weeks but the early indications are that this absence could once again be an extended one.

When asked about his knee on NBA Media Day as the Bulls reported for training camp, it was clear that there’s a chance we don’t see Ball in uniform for the Bulls for a very long time. While we hope that doesn’t end up being the case, it was difficult to come away with a different conclusion.

Here’s the one quote from the article that absolutely guts me:

"The symptoms are something Ball said he has never dealt with and have left doctors, in his words, “a little surprised.”"

The fact that the doctors are “surprised” is extremely concerning. Of course, the hope is that this most recent procedure is something that will truly help him and allow him to get back on the court sooner rather than later.

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But I think it wouldn’t be wise to allow that to be the expectation. I just hope we see Ball in a Bulls uniform this season. I’m afraid that we may not.