Darvin Ham provides worrisome update on Jarred Vanderbilt ahead of Lakers season opener vs. Nuggets

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read

Los Angeles Lakers head coach Darvin Ham offered a concerning update on forward Jarred Vanderbilt and his status for the team’s 2023-24 regular season opener.

Vanderbilt will miss the team’s preseason game against the Phoenix Suns on Thursday.

The Lakers forward has missed time with a heel injury, and it appears he’s not a sure thing for the regular season opener against the defending champion Denver Nuggets.

The Lakers would obviously love to have Vanderbilt in the lineup against Denver, but they do have some forward depth that could help them make up for a potential loss of Vanderbilt.

This offseason, the Lakers signed forward Taurean Prince and re-signed forward Rui Hachimura to improve their frontcourt depth. They also added wing Cam Reddish in free agency. Those players could all be options to take some of Vanderbilt’s minutes if he can’t play.

The Lakers acquired Vanderbilt at the trade deadline last season in a three-team deal involving the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves.

After being dealt to Los Angeles, Vanderbilt appeared in 26 games for the Lakers in the regular season and made 24 starts. He averaged 7.2 points, 6.7 rebounds and 1.2 steals per game for the Lakers while shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 30.3 percent from beyond the arc.

A strong defender, Vanderbilt could be an important piece in the Lakers’ rotation this season, especially since he can guard multiple positions.

The Lakers actually used him to guard Stephen Curry during the playoffs last season, which shows just how versatile Vanderbilt can be.

The season opener in the 2023-24 campaign may mean a little more to the Lakers this season since they were knocked out of the playoffs last season by Denver. The Nuggets swept the Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.

With LeBron James and Anthony Davis both on the roster and healthy, the Lakers should be able to compete for a top spot in the West in the 2023-24 season. While the team would hate to be down a key player in the opener, it does give an opportunity for other players to step up and prove why they deserve minutes in Ham’s rotation.

It’s likely the Lakers will give an update on Vanderbilt’s status after he is evaluated on Friday.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.