Lakers Rumors: Jarred Vanderbilt ‘Progressing Upward’ Toward 2023-24 Season Return
Jarred Vanderbilt, Lakers
David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers are in the midst of the most crucial stretch of the 2023-24 season as they have about a month to climb up the Western Conference standings.

The Lakers have played some of the best teams in the league the past couple of weeks, but the schedule doesn’t lighten up as they’ll continue to face off against difficult opponents. Los Angeles has been up and down, but have shown they can win meaningful games when things are clicking on both ends of the floor.

Head coach Darvin Ham has seemingly settled on a rotation in recent weeks, though it’s resulted in more offense than defense. The shift has been necessary as Jarred Vanderbilt’s been out of the lineup since Feb. 1 after he sustained a mid-foot injury.

Vanderbilt has been going through rehab and there’s reportedly optimism that he’ll return before the regular season, Jovan Buha of The Athletic recently reported:

“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 like timing. Is it two weeks from now, is it four weeks from now? There is a big difference in terms of when he returns.”

The last update noted Vanderbilt hadn’t progressed to on-court work, but it appears that he’s either already started or is about to start ramping up. Vanderbilt’s dealt with foot injuries previously in his career and the medical staff is understandably being cautious as he works his way back from this one.

If Vanderbilt is able to return at any point, it would be a huge boon for the Lakers, who initially believed he could need surgery to fix the injury. Although Los Angeles has played better as of late, they need Vanderbilt’s versatility on the defensive end and his general energy and hustle on the floor.

Rui Hachimura is likely entrenched as the Lakers’ fifth starter given his scoring and size, but Vanderbilt would give the team more size and switchability off the bench. Hopefully he doesn’t suffer any setbacks in his rehab and is able to return sooner rather than later.

Anthony Davis discusses how Lakers can overcome inconsistent play

Anthony Davis is playing the best basketball of his career, but it hasn’t resulted in as many wins as the Lakers would like. The wild inconsistency has hurt the team’s ability to close games and Davis admitted that communication is key to solve their problems.

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