LAKERS INJURY UPDATE: Lakers’ Jarred Vanderbilt WONT be playing anytime soon due to..

Lakers’ Jarred Vanderbilt gets promising injury update for Game 5 vs. Nuggets

The Lakers could get Jarred Vanderbilt back for Game 5 in Denver.

The Los Angeles Lakers have upgraded forward Jarred Vanderbilt to questionable for their Game 5 matchup with the Denver Nuggets on Monday night.

Vanderbilt has not appeared in a game since suffering a mid-right foot sprain against the Boston Celtics on Feb. 1. Vanderbilt was reportedly eyeing a return for Game 3 or Game 4 at Arena, but was never cleared by the Lakers’ medical staff. The Lakers have not formally updated Vanderbilt’s progress for weeks.

The versatile defender missed the first 20 games of the 2023-24 regular season with left heel soreness. In 29 games (six starts), Vanderbilt averaged 5.2 points, 4.8 rebounds, and 1.2 steals on 51.8% shooting in 20 minutes.

The Lakers have missed Vanderbilt’s length and disruptiveness on the perimeter. Against Denver, Austin Reaves and Gabe Vincent have admirably kept Jamal Murray under 40% shooting in all four games, but Rui Hachimura, D’Angelo Russell, and Taurean Prince have struggled to track shooters and cutters, especially Michael Porter Jr. and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. (Murray is questionable for Game 5).

The Lakers lost the transition battle through the first three games — an absolute no-no if they want to pull the historic upset. Vanderbilt, at full strength, excels at pushing the ball up-court and turning chaos into easy buckets. Of course, the Lakers can’t expect the Swiss Army Knife to be at his sharpest coming off two months in street clothes.

After being acquired at the 2023 trade deadline, along with D’Angelo Russell (and Malik Beasley), Vanderbilt started 24 of 26 games down the stretch for the Lakers, and 13 of 15 games in their run through the 2023 NBA Playoffs.

Vanderbilt’s role was reduced in the Denver series, though, largely due to his inability to switch onto Nikola Jokic in two-man sets with Murray. He had two field goals and four rebounds in 41 total minutes across the sweep. He was a DNP-CD in Game 4.

Still, the Lakers could use all the help they could get with their 2023-24 season on the line as they head into a hostile Mile High environment.

“Energy,” LeBron said at practice last week when asked about what Vanderbilt’s return mid-series could offer the Lakers. “Super high energetic, defensively, some of the things he brings to our team, you don’t even teach. You just allow him to go out there and just be Vando. We don’t know for sure that we’re getting him back, we don’t know, we’ve only seen a couple reports. But he knows his body better than anybody.”

Christian Wood, out since Feb. 14 due to knee surgery, was medically cleared to return for Game 4. He was active for the game, but Jaxson Hayes received the backup center minutes in the Lakers’ season-extending 119-108 win on Saturday night at Arena. Wood was a DNP-CD.

Anthony Davis (left wrist sprain) and LeBron James (left ankle peroneal tendinopathy) are listed as probable for Game 5 at Ball Arena. Cam Reddish (right ankle sprain) remains out.

Vanderbilt has averaged 10.7 points and 11.2 rebounds per 36 minutes in his five-year NBA career. The 25-year-old signed a four-year, $48 million extension with the Lakers in September.

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