Breaking News: Lakers Forward will Back Before End Of Season

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Darvin Ham gives exciting Jarred Vanderbilt injury update.

A Jarred Vanderbilt return from injury could be on the horizon for the Los Angeles Lakers. The 24-year-old has been on the shelf since February 1 with a right mid-foot sprain. He suffered the injury in a game against the Boston Celtics. Vanderbilt has now missed each of the Lakers’ last 15 games.

“It sounds like [Jarred Vanderbilt]’s going to be back this season; it’s just a matter of timing”

Vanderbilt, out since Feb. 1 when he suffered a foot injury, has been progressing upward and could return before the end of the season.

(@jovanbuha) pic.twitter.com/WOG2Ce8nsx

— The Laker Files (@LakerFiles) March 10, 2024

According to Jovan Buha, a Lakers insider for the Athletic, the six-foot eight forward will be back this season. While he couldn’t give a definitive timetable, it is still positive news for the Lakers who can use the added depth.

Lakers Forward Expected Back Before End of Season

Vanderbilt has Been Integral Part of Rotation

On February 9, 2023, Vanderbilt was involved in a three-team that sent him from the Utah Jazz to the Lakers. Los Angeles was just 25-30 when they made the trade last season but went 18-9 through the end of the regular season. They reached the Western Conference Finals before being swept by the Denver Nuggets.

Vanderbilt was inserted into the starting lineup as he started 24 of his 26 games with the Lakers last season (as well as 13 of 15 postseason appearances). Known more as a defensive presence, Vanderbilt averaged 7.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 steals with the team in the regular season.

This season, he was moved into a reserve role early on as he has started just six of his 29 appearances. He still was a regular part of the rotation averaging 20 minutes per contest. On the season, he is averaging 5.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, 1.2 assists, and 1.2 steals. While he doesn’t attempt a lot of shots, Vanderbilt is shooting 51.8% from the field.

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While those averages don’t jump off the page, they also don’t show the value he provides. The Lakers are outscoring opponents by 4.6 points per 100 possessions with Vanderbilt on the court. They have been outscored by 1.9 per 100 possessions while he’s not out there, a swing of 6.5 points.

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Another Late Season Surge With Vanderbilt?

As mentioned, the Lakers record improved greatly after acquiring Vanderbilt (also added Malik Beasley in the deal). They are currently 35-30 which is ninth place in the Western Conference with 17 games remaining.

The Lakers sit 2.5 games behind sixth place which is currently occupied by the Sacramento Kings. A top-six seed is needed to ensure a playoff spot and avoid the Play-In Tournament. Los Angeles was involved in the Play-In Tournament last season but would surely like to avoid it if possible.

The Lakers can’t stay in front of fast guards without Jarred Vanderbilt. With Jarred Vanderbilt the offense that has powered this stretch is compromised.

That’s what happens when you build a roster without reliable two-way players. You just trade one weakness for another.

— Sam Quinn (@SamQuinnCBS) March 7, 2024

Jarred Vanderbilt returning from injury would be a huge boom for a team that needs his perimeter defense.

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