INDIANAPOLIS-- At UCLA, Lonzo Ball played with a unique flair and swagger to his game that landed him the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NBA Draft. The 6-foot-6 point guard averaged 14.6 points, 6.0 rebounds and 7.6 assists per game while playing in all 36 of the Bruins' games.
However, since coming into the NBA, he has not been gifted the same bill of health.
In his first two seasons in the NBA with the Lakers, he missed a combined 65 games. This season, he came into training camp fully healthy after a slow recovery period during the offseason. Now he has played in 45-of-53 games and looks to be on track to play a career-high in games.
Even more recently, he's played 37 minutes or more minutes in three of the last four games and averaged 11.3 points, 8.2 rebounds and 7.3 assists. The burst and athleticism on the offensive and defensive side of the court are there. Slowly but surely, the skill set that wowed everyone in college is coming back.
"Out of my three years, this is for sure the healthiest I've been," Ball said after the Pelicans' victory Saturday night over the Pacers.
Even though this is the third season of his career, he is still 22-years-old with a very long career ahead. There is no telling what the finished product will look like. After missing an abundance of time and dealing with roster turbulence with the Lakers, the Pelicans appear to be an ideal fit. Ultimately, being healthy is the final piece of the puzzle.
This year's No. 1 overall pick Zion Williamson and All-Star Brandon Ingram sat out Saturday's win against the Pacers. However, the Pelicans still found a way to win behind Ball's game-high 39 minutes and Jrue Holiday's 31 points.
As a whole, the Pelicans are playing excellent basketball as of late, winning six of their last 10 games. Suddenly, the team is clicking, and for the most part, injuries aren't holding anyone back.
"I would say this is our best team win from the standpoint of I think everyone contributed at some stage and gave us a lift," Alvin Gentry said.
On top of the team's overall hot streak, a healthy and confident Lonzo Ball has the ability to help give the Pelicans a late surge into the Western Conference playoff race.