Jarred Vanderbilt was one of the Los Angeles Lakers’ main acquisitions at last season’s trade deadline. He made an immediate impact with his defensive energy and was often tasked with guarding the opposing team’s best player. His role in 2023-24 should be similar, even with the Lakers adding some depth and talent around the margins.
But so far in preseason, he has not had the chance to show his fit on the roster, as he has missed three of the team’s four preseason games due to soreness in his left heel. While Vanderbilt is unlikely to lose his spot in the rotation, it would be good to see him in action prior to the start of the regular season.
But even with the heel soreness holding him out of multiple games, he is expected to suit up for the Lakers when they take the floor of the 2023-24 season opener on Oct. 24, according to Dave McMenamin of ESPN:
Jarred Vanderbilt will miss his third straight preseason game tonight against GSW as the Lakers are "monitoring soreness" in Vanderbilt's left heel, sources told ESPN. There is no concern that Vando will not be ready in time for the season opener, however.
— Dave McMenamin (@mcten) October 13, 2023
The Lakers are going to be as cautious as possible when it comes to one of their best defensive players. This season, they certainly need Vanderbilt’s talents, but they also have the depth to make up for a temporary absence. L.A. has no reason to risk anything in October.
The heel is also a potentially scary place to have soreness given its proximity to the Achilles tendon. Any soreness in the lower ankle, calf and foot should be monitored so that it doesn’t eventually turn into an Achilles injury. Holding him out of the preseason, with the hope that he’ll be back for the season opener, helps to preserve Vanderbilt for a long season ahead.
Taurean Prince shines in loss to Warriors
Vanderbilt missed Friday night’s game against the Golden State Warriors, and starting in that forward spot was free agent signing Taurean Prince. Prince finished as the team’s leading scorer with 17 points on 5-for-6 from the field and 4-for-5 from three. He added two steals and was a plus-five in the four point loss.
Prince is certainly a candidate to be a starter when the regular season begins, along with Vanderbilt once he returns to full strength.
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