Injuries have hammered the Los Angeles Lakers through the first few weeks of the season although they have managed to keep their head up above water, sitting around .500.
Slowly but surely, players are making their way back as Jaxson Hayes, Rui Hachimura, Anthony Davis and Taurean Prince have returned after missing some games. However, L.A. is still without Gabe Vincent and Jarred Vanderbilt for at least a few more weeks as they ramp up.
Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino is another player dealing with injury as he sustained a right patella contusion during the preseason. At shootaround on Tuesday, Hood-Schifino was seen going through some drills signaling a potential return in the near future, via Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Lakers rookie Jalen Hood-Schifino went through full court drills Tuesday morning. He’s yet to make his season debut, out with a right patella contusion. pic.twitter.com/bsQM0bz1Ng
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) November 14, 2023
The Lakers would later announce that Hood-Schifino has begun a return to play progression and Darvin Ham would provide an update on where he is at in his rehab process.
“He’s status quo, day by day we’re ramping him up even more. Again, trying to take notes of how well they’re recovering when they do their ramp-up,” Ham said.
When training camp kicked off, the rookie was a name that was mentioned frequently as he was surprising players and coaches in practice. This was promising to hear as the 20-year-old was catching the eyes of his veteran teammates and even had a chance to crack the rotation.
However, during the preseason, Hood-Schifino struggled with adapting to the NBA playstyle and shooting on the catch or self-creation. The guard is in need of more development and is still young, but he has yet to find his stride in Summer League and now preseason.
With this right patella injury, Hood-Schifino has yet to make a regular season debut, but heading into this season it was going to be an uphill battle to get into the rotation. The championship aspirations weigh heavy on the Lakers this season and that doesn’t bode well for rookies, but perhaps when he is fully healthy, he may see some spot minutes during the regular season in addition to playing significant minutes in the G League.
Vanderbilt cleared to begin return to play progression
Vanderbilt is a player that the Lakers have missed dearly on the defensive side of the ball. L.A.’s early struggles have been centered around perimeter defense and defensive rebounding, two things the forward can provide.
However, Vanderbilt suffered a left heel injury after the first preseason game and has yet to suit up in the regular season. His injury was not believed to be serious at the time, but his diagnosis of left heel bursitis has kept him out longer than anticipated.
The forward was re-evaluated last week by team doctors and he has been cleared to begin a return to play progression.
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