Days after the Lakers won the In-Season Tournament, the team received some more encouraging news. Guard Gabe Vincent, who is currently dealing with a left knee effusion, is hoping to return to action next Monday, according to NBA insider Shams Charania. His return has implications for the team’s guard depth and overall play, as the Lakers regain full strength following tournament excellence.
Lakers News: Gabe Vincent Eyeing Return Next Week
Vincent last played on Oct. 30 against the Magic, recording nine points (4/7 FG), two assists and one steal. It was his best performance following a rough start to the season. In four games, he’s averaged six points, one rebound and three assists on 39% shooting from the field and 7% from three. It’s a far cry from last season, when he performed well as the Miami Heat’s sixth man and started at point guard during their run to the Finals.
The Lakers have gone 12-7 in Vincent’s absence and currently sit fourth in the West with a 14-9 record. With the team recently adding Jarred Vanderbilt and Rui Hachimura, bringing Vincent on board has a plethora of benefits.
What Gabe Vincent’s Return Means for the Lakers
As expected, it may take a while for Vincent to readjust to game speed, and his first few contests could come with a minutes restriction. However, a video from LA Times sports writer Dan Woike showed Vincent going through a rigorous pregame workout.
Gabe Vincent going through a fairly intense pregame workout today pic.twitter.com/Ioy28XhIE8
— Dan Woike (@DanWoikeSports) December 9, 2023
He’ll eventually be able to make a dent in the team’s offense, adding an extra playmaker next to LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Additionally, Vincent gives the Lakers another perimeter defender, fortifying the seventh-best defense in the league. Hopefully, he’ll also be able to get out of the shooting slump that plagued him to start the season.
How Vincent Impacts Austin Reaves and Other Guards
One of the reasons why the Lakers have succeeded recently is due to Austin Reaves’s role off the bench. Vincent would have been LA’s sixth man with Reaves starting, but those requirements have shifted due to the veteran’s injury.
Once he returns, Gabe could slide into the backup facilitator role while Reaves moves to the two. Reaves would still have freedom as a scorer, but the facilitating duties would largely fall into Vincent’s hands. Judging by Reaves’s breakout performance in the IST championship—28 points on 9/15 shooting—there’s no doubt he can continue that stellar production next to a pass-first guard like Vincent.
Another player impacted by Vincent’s comeback is Max Christie. In 18 games (five starts), he averaged five points, nearly three rebounds and one assist per game. He also shot 41% from the field, 31% from three and 71% from the line. Christie played a larger role due to LA’s injuries, and he’s done just enough to help them when their depth has been tested significantly. He’ll have to take a backseat when Vincent plays significant minutes, but he’s earned the trust of Lakers coaches and fans in a short period of time.
The Last Word
Gabe Vincent’s return comes during an optimal period for the Lakers, who will face the Knicks, Bulls, Timberwolves and Thunder next week. His comeback also means that Reaves and Christie will see a slight decrease in their respective roles. However, they’ll continue to be key guys within the Lakers rotation. The Lakers are getting healthy at a perfect time, and fans have plenty to look forward to as an exciting season continues.