Los Angeles Lakers wing Jarred Vanderbilt had a very tough start to the season, dealing with persistent heel bursitis that kept him out for the majority of pre-season and multiple weeks of the regular season. Upon returning, Vanderbilt had to play himself into shape and regain his form and rhythm while playing through discomfort and pain as part of that process.
There were certainly some ups and downs — as you would expect following an extended layoff — but recent weeks saw Vanderbilt regaining the form, confidence and dynamic impact that made him such an important piece of the team’s turnaround last season.
And then another injury struck. During the closing minutes of the first half against the Boston Celtics, Vanderbilt injured his foot while pushing off and immediately came off limping and shaking his head on the bench. Considering it was non-contact, there was a high level of concern.
After going through initial examinations and consultation with specialists, there were some reports that he may miss the entire season. On Monday, the Lakers gave an official update, giving the diagnosis of a midfoot sprain and plans for re-evaluation in 3-4 weeks.
Let's examine the injury closer to understand Vanderbilt’s prospects moving forward and why there is so much grey area regarding his specific injury.
The team is likely using the rehabilitation window as a diagnostic of sorts to see how he responds and then make a decision from there. Of course, you hope it goes well and Vanderbilt is able to return this season.
However, he will then need another ramp-up period to regain that form, rhythm and confidence again.
This will be a fluid process and as always, I’ll update you as we learn more information.
Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT has a doctorate in physical therapy from Northern Arizona University, and runs his own in-person and online sports medicine and performance business, 3CB Performance, in West LA and Valencia, CA and partners with Quantum Performance in which he further combines his movement expertise and fitness training background to rehab & train elite athletes. He also works at a hospital — giving him experience with patients in the immediate healthcare setting and neurological patients (post stroke, post brain injury) — and has been practicing for over 5 years.
Brar is additionally training at UCLA’s mindful awareness research center (MARC), has a background in youth basketball coaching and analyzes the Lakers from a medical and skills perspective for Silver Screen and Roll and on his own YouTube Channel. You can follow him on Twitter at @3cbPerformance.