Los Angeles Lakers Lonzo Ball Injury Discussion

The Los Angeles Lakers are already in the news. With the potential of landing Paul George, LeBron James, training for Kawhi Leonard, and other [potential and highly unlikely] signings Chris Paul, DeMarcus Cousins, Jamaal Crawford they could build the NBA’s latest super team. But that’s not why we’re here.



News broke late Friday that sophomore point guard Lonzo Ball has torn his meniscus, in his left knee. It is surprising that he has a torn meniscus, but this isn’t the first time that he has had left knee issues. He missed the last eight games of his rookie season due to a knee contusion and then had PRP shot in his left knee once the season concluded.


You have to wonder about what is going on with his knee. Was he misdiagnosed? Was the extent of the injury not revealed? What you can’t wonder is, now he has a torn meniscus now and he’s recovering.

What you have to be curious about is:

  • Location of tear (medial or lateral)
  • Location of tear (outer portion or deep portion)
  • Other tissues involved (MCL or LCL)

Anatomy Review:


The menisci are fibrocartilaginous material. The cup design of the meniscus creates a uniformity that allows the femur (leg bone) and tibia (lower leg bone) to function as your knee and move with ease.

The menisci function:

  • Absorb and distribute internal forces through the knee
  • Absorb and distribute external forces through the knee
  • Creates uniform articulation surface for the femoral condyles

The meniscus anatomy:

  • The medial and lateral portions are not the same size nor the same shape
    • The medial is larger than the lateral
    • The medial is more semi-circular than the lateral which is more circular
  • The medial meniscus is attached to the MCL and the lateral meniscus is more free standing
    • It’s why recovery could take longer if Lonzo injured his medial meniscus because it’s intimately associated with the MCL.
  • The menisci blood supply also varies, which is why it’s important to know which portion of the meniscus is damaged.
    • The outer rim has a rich blood supply
      • Recovery can be fast
    • The inner portion (2/3) has a poor blood supply
      • Recovery can be slow

What Rehabilitation Could Look Like:

The first several days following surgery, the goal is to decrease inflammation and pain and to begin gentle and assisted knee motion, primarily flexion.

By week two, he should be able to start squatting. It’s not squat to depth but he has now started performing one of the “functional” movements. Another “functional” exercise he should be adding are hip hinges, which can lead to deadlifts and hip thrusts.

End of week 3, should have beginning to lunge and adding other single-leg exercises and increasing load with two legged exercises. The addition of lateral movement and multi-directional movement into his rehabilitation program will have been introduced by the end of week three.

Hopefully by the end of week five or six, he is at full strength in his hips, hamstrings, and quadriceps. Without any major setbacks, he’ll begin to transition into the general preparation phase before he starts his sports specific training.

My Take:

A timetable for his recovery is about three months and can range from two to four months.  With four months until the start of training camp in October, he should not have any limitations once training camp starts. Depending on what is emphasized in his rehabilitation, is going to influence his outcome.

In the early stages of his rehabilitation, his process is going to look traditional in what you may see in an outpatient clinic in your area. What’s going to heavily influence his outcome is when he is in the later stages of his rehabilitation where the rehabilitation can no longer standard protocols. He’s going to have more a comprehensive blend of strength training and rehabilitation. He’s not a guy who is just looking to walk without pain again or not have pain going up and down the stairs. He’s an athlete, that is going to need to be able to move laterally, move quickly, jump, slide, and play basketball again.

Is there a chance he could have mild discomfort throughout the season? Potentially but highly unlikely. As reported, he should be ready to go by the start of the season (late October). It’s just a matter of who he plays for.

NBA: Los Angeles Lakers at Cleveland Cavaliers
Mandatory Credit: David Richard-USA TODAY Sports

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