Report: Jarred Vanderbilt could make Lakers return in early April

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Supposedly, a goal for the Los Angeles Lakers is to have Jarred Vanderbilt make his return to the court for the storied franchise early next month, per The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.

“From what I’ve heard, the Lakers are targeting early April,” Buha said regarding Vanderbilt’s potential return. “I don’t have a concrete date in terms of is that April 2nd? Is that April 9th? But sometime within that first week to week and a half of April, the Lakers are trying to get Vando back. The season ends on April 14th, so they are trying to get him back to get at least three or four games under his belt. One good sign is he’s been traveling with the team.”

Vanderbilt has been sidelined for the lion’s share of the 2023-24 regular season, his second season as a member of the Lakers. He has logged just 29 games with the team and is averaging 5.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists and 1.2 steals per contest on 51.8 percent shooting from the floor and 29.6 percent from deep.

The 24-year-old has been out of the lineup ever since he suffered a foot injury in the Lakers’ impressive win against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 1. Before leaving the game with his injury, Vanderbilt made his presence felt from a defensive standpoint in limited minutes, considering he racked up three steals in just over 16 minutes of action.

The Lakers’ defensive numbers in the month of March hint at the idea that they could greatly benefit from Vanderbilt’s defensive presence. Since the start of the month, Los Angeles is allowing a whopping 119.1 points per game, which is the fourth-most of any NBA team over that span.

The only three teams who have given up more points per contest this month are the Utah Jazz, Toronto Raptors and Washington Wizards. All three squads are well outside of the playoff picture in their respective conferences, and the Wizards hold the second-worst record in the NBA this season at 14-59.

But to the Lakers’ credit, they have been playing winning basketball recently. Los Angeles has won each of its past five contests and hasn’t picked up a loss since it fell to the Golden State Warriors on March 16 — nearly two weeks ago.

Two of Los Angeles’ five wins during its active streak have come by double digits.

The team’s next chance to continue its winning streak will come when it plays the Indiana Pacers on Friday. The Pacers own a solid 6-4 record over their last 10 contests and lost to the Chicago Bulls in their most recent game on March 27.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.