Report: Jarred Vanderbilt ‘progressing upward,’ expected to make Lakers return this season

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt is trending towards a return this season, according to The Athletic’s Jovan Buha.

“I’ve heard Vando is progressing upward,” Buha said. “It sounds like he’s going to be back this season; it’s just a matter of timing. Is it two weeks from now? Is it four weeks from now? There is a big difference in terms of when he returns.”

Vanderbilt returning in the 2023-24 campaign would be a huge boost to the Lakers, especially on the defensive side of the ball. He has not appeared in a game since he was injured against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 1.

The Lakers wing is dealing with a right mid-foot sprain. This isn’t the first injury Vanderbilt has dealt with this season, as a heel ailment caused him to miss the first 20 games of the season for Los Angeles.

Since being acquired at last season’s trade deadline, Vanderbilt has been tasked with guarding some of the league’s best players for the Lakers.

Unfortunately, the Lakers have only had him in the lineup for 29 games this season. The former second-round pick is averaging 5.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists per game while shooting 51.8 percent from the field and 29.6 percent from beyond the arc.

In the 29 games that Vanderbilt has appeared in, the Lakers have a 14-15 record. They are 21-15 in the 36 games that he has missed.

Adding Vanderbilt back into the rotation at some point this season would give the Lakers some depth alongside Cam Reddish and Rui Hachimura on the wing. Hachimura has been starting as of late for Los Angeles.

The Lakers need all the help they can get to make a playoff push this season, as the team currently holds the No. 9 seed in the Western Conference. On the bright side for Lakers fans, Los Angeles is just 2.5 games out of the No. 6 seed.

If the team can reach a top-six seed in the West, it would avoid the NBA’s play-in tournament.

Given Vanderbilt’s defensive versatility, he’s a player that could help the Lakers guard stars like Luka Doncic, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, Stephen Curry, De’Aaron Fox, Anthony Edwards, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Brandon Ingram and others if Los Angeles has to go against any of those players in the postseason.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.