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Magic Johnson Calls Bulls’ Lonzo Ball One Of The Best Defensive Guards

Magic Johnson knows a thing or two about elite defense.

Lonzo Ball Chicago Bulls Defense
Photo: Kamil Krzaczynski/USA TODAY Sports

When it comes to basketball opinions, Magic Johnson isn’t shy about sharing his. To this day, he is one of the best basketball players of all time. Defensively, he was the league leader in steals in 1981 and 1982. On a Monday morning ESPN segment, he threw the gavel down by praising the Chicago Bulls’ currently injured point guard. “Lonzo Ball is one of the best defensive guards in basketball,” Johnson declared.

Lonzo Ball’s Defense

It’s no secret that Lonzo Ball is the head of the Bulls’ backcourt on defense. Despite only playing in 35 games this year, he is still Chicago’s defensive win share leader at 0.135. He also ranks second among Bulls guards in defensive rebounding at 4.4 per game. Most importantly, he is averaging 1.8 steals per game. The current league-wide leader is Dejounte Murray with 2.0. But due to his injury limiting his game action this season, Ball doesn’t appear on the league charts.

Chicago ranked in the top 10 defensively to start the year. Then, a flurry of COVID cases and injuries ravaged the roster and the Bulls lineup was never the same. Slowly but surely, the Bulls saw injured players return to action — except Ball. In his absence, the Bulls seem to hang tough with their opponent and then give up a barrage of threes, which they can’t recover from that point on. Ball continues to be the missing piece that could help stop the bleeding.

What’s Next For Ball and the Bulls?

The last update the Chicago Bulls provided regarding Lonzo Ball was that he had to stop running for 10 days. Now, Ball has returned to running but the Bulls have yet to set a timetable for his return. Prior to the shutdown, the team projected a week and a half to get him game ready. Expect him to take that long at the very least, meaning he will miss Chicago’s last four games. These contests feature tough opponents — the Bucks, Celtics, Hornets, and Timberwolves. The Bulls’ magic number to make the playoffs is one, but they need to win more games down the stretch to attain a more favorable matchup.

Realistically, Ball’s potential return would occur during the playoffs. While Billy Donovan hasn’t voiced a concrete plan, it sounds like Ball’s recovery will mirror Alex Caruso’s. The latter guard’s first few games back involved coming off the bench before re-entering the starting lineup in his third contest.

Mystery still surrounds the details of Ball’s potential return, but one thing is certain. Getting him back in any capacity will be a major defensive boost for the Bulls come playoff time.

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