Lakers Injury Update: Jarred Vanderbilt To Be Re-Evaluated In Two Weeks With Left Heel Bursitis
Jarred Vanderbilt, Lakers
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers got their first win of the season on Thursday night, taking down the Phoenix Suns. Phoenix of course, was led by Kevin Durant who finished with 39 points and while it’s impossible to shut down a scorer of Durant’s caliber, there is no doubt head coach Darvin Ham would have loved to have Jarred Vanderbilt available to throw at him.

Vanderbilt is the Lakers’ best perimeter defender, and one of the best in the league period, but he remains out due to left heel bursitis. What seemed like a minor injury when it occurred has now stretched into the regular season, but it is still very early and Ham insists the Lakers will not rush him back.

“Obviously he is out tonight,” Ham said about Vanderbilt prior to the Lakers’ win. “We’re still going through the evaluation process and making sure we cross our Ts and dot our Is. Being that it’s this early in the season, there’s no need to rush the process. So we’ll update you accordingly.”

Especially this early into the season, it is always better to play it safe and ensure Vanderbilt is completely healed before getting him back on the court. Unfortunately for the Lakers, that time won’t be in the near future as they recently announced Vanderbilt will be re-evaluated in two weeks with that bursitis.

But when he does return, Ham definitely knows what Vanderbilt brings to the Lakers and can’t wait to get him out there.

“Obviousy [Vando] is like a Swiss army knife able to guard multiple positions,” Ham added. “His jump shot has improved, I can’t wait for him to get out there and start throwing it up there at the rim when teams try to play off of him. And yeah, he’s just an energizer bunny. He doesn’t take off plays, he takes the toughest matchups.”

With Vanderbilt out, Taurean Prince has locked down the starting small forward spot for the Lakers. While the two are different players, Ham does see some similarities there as well.

“And then on the other hand, you have Taurean who is a bonafide, proven shooter and scorer, plays with a lot of tenacity, also able to guard multiple positions,” Ham noted. “Vando is probably a little bit taller and a little more energizer bunny-ish, does a lot of work on the offensive glass, but so does TP. So they’re similar in a lot of ways but obviously their games are built a little bit different.”

What seems to be clear, for now at least, is that Ham is going to find some minutes for Vanderbilt once he is ready to get back on the court. And as the team’s top perimeter defender, and one who has been working hard on his jumper, it could be hard to keep him off the floor once he’s healthy.

Lakers’ Jarred Vanderbilt discusses what he worked on this offseason

And Vanderbilt has been hard at work this offseason looking to improve on his shortcomings. The Lakers forward noted he has been working hard on his shooting as well as getting more agile this summer.

“Being able to shoot the ball, I worked a lot on shooting. Finishing, ball handling, just pretty much touching up everything. As well as defensively, getting stronger, getting faster, getting more agile. I feel like each and every summer I try to just get better in every aspect of the game.”

If Vanderbilt can be a consistent perimeter shooter, he will be the absolute ideal role player for the Lakers.

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