Entering the 2023-24 season, the Los Angeles Lakers look like one of the few teams that can legitimately say they’re in the conversation to compete for a championship though the organization will always be worrying about injuries.
LeBron James and Anthony Davis were forced to miss large stretches of time last season, though they were able to play through the pain and get the Lakers all the way to the Western Conference Finals. It wasn’t just the stars, though, as several role players also dealt with nagging ailments that forced them to miss time.
So far, the team has remained relatively unscathed through the preseason though Jarred Vanderbilt hasn’t made an appearance since Los Angeles’ first preseason game. Vanderbilt has been dealing with a sore heel and was reportedly not in danger of missing Opening Night against the Denver Nuggets.
However, prior to their preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday, Darvin Ham was non-committal about Vanderbilt suiting up next week. “We’ll see,” Ham said. “Once he gets re-evaluated on Friday, we’ll go from there.”
Ham changing his tune is a bit concerning considering there hasn’t been much new info on Vanderbilt’s injury. The Lakers recently extended Vanderbilt to a four-year deal and was expected to play a sizable role on the roster, but now it remains to be seen if he’ll be ready to go against the Nuggets.
The forward was in the mix to be the fifth starter alongside Austin Reaves, D’Angelo, James and Davis but the time off the court has seemingly given Taurean Prince an edge in the competition. Prince has started the past few preseason games and looks like a clean fit alongside the other starters.
Vanderbilt’s last chance to appear before the regular season will be this Thursday when the Lakers go to Palm Springs to take on the Phoenix Suns. If he’s unable to go, then it feels likely that he’ll also be held out during Opening Night.
Austin Reaves discusses Taurean Prince’s fit with the starting five
Prince was reportedly in serious consideration to be named the fifth starter prior to the start of preseason, but after a few games it’s fair to assume that he’s Ham’s preferred option.
A rugged defender and a solid 3-point shooter, Prince has the skillset every team would want out of the forward position. Reaves discussed Prince’s fit in the starting rotation and believes he is a great addition.
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