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Lonzo Ball to Return to Bulls Lineup Tonight

Lonzo Ball has cleared the NBA's health and safety protocols and will return for the Bulls on Monday night.
Lonzo Ball Bulls

Photo: Cole Burston/Getty Images

After weeks of fighting off a massive COVID-19 wave, the Chicago Bulls will have their typical starters back. Lonzo Ball has finally been given the okay to play vs. the Magic on Monday night.

While Ball has been out, the Bulls have been undefeated. This streak came with Chris Fleming serving as the acting head coach since Billy Donovan was also due to COVID-19 protocols. Ball's presence has been greatly missed as the Bulls squeaked by the last two games on DeMar DeRozan buzzer-beaters.

Lonzo Ball's Defensive Impact

Lonzo Ball is one of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA. Of the Bulls' typical rotation players, Ball has the highest defensive rating at 105.5. While the Bulls' did have a perfect replacement in Alex Caruso, who has a defensive rating of 106.4, he has been out the entire time with a foot injury.

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With no true stopgap option, Chicago has looked sloppy on defense. The Bulls have pulled through in their absences, but they've only won their last two games by a combined three points. Ball should help pad these win margins by enabling other players to rest in the fourth quarter. Ball's return will be most impactful in this area.

Lonzo Ball's Offensive Impact

Offensively, the Bulls didn't miss a beat. DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine continued to play at an elite level. Lonzo Ball's passing ability was missing, but the offense still had a variety of options to score points.

One new option emerged in form of Coby White, who excelled in a starting role. White averaged 20.3 points per game on 35.5 minutes while Ball was out. With Ball back, White should see a drop in minutes. White's averages may dip, but being a consistent scoring option will make him more reliable off the bench. Ball's three-point shooting will also help ease the offensive burden for both Coby White and DeMar DeRozan, shooting higher than their averages.