The journey to an 18th championship has officially begun as the Los Angeles Lakers are on the road tonight to take on the Denver Nuggets. It is a rematch from last year’s Western Conference Finals as the Lakers are looking to knock down the defending champions.
It has been a long time since NBA fans have seen meaningful basketball. Fans are hoping to see an entertaining battle between two of the best teams in the league and this matchup certainly should produce fireworks (especially with a new rivalry brewing between the two teams).
The only thing that can slow this matchup down is injuries. Thankfully, the stars on both teams enter this game healthy. But there is still a valuable Lakers rotation player who is dealing with an injury: Jarred Vanderbilt.
Is Jarred Vanderbilt playing on Opening Night?
Unfortunately, Jarred Vanderbilt has been ruled out of Tuesday night’s opener against the Denver Nuggets. Vanderbilt missed several preseason games with a heel injury and that injury has trickled into the regular season.
Vanderbilt signed a four-year, $48 million extension with the Lakers in the offseason. He started 24 of 26 games played for the purple and gold last season and started 13 of 15 playoff games. Taurean Prince is going to start in place of Vando, with Darvin Ham saying that Prince starting is circumstantial.
Full Lakers injury report vs Nuggets:
Outside of Vanderbilt, the Lakers are only dealing with one other injury on opening night. First-round pick Jalen Hood-Schifino has also been ruled out. Per Jovan Buha of The Athletic, JHS is dealing with a knee contusion.
While it is unfortunate that Hood-Schifino has to wait to make his NBA debut, it shouldn’t make too big of a difference for the Lake Show against the Nuggets. Hood-Schifino isn’t expected to be much of a rotation player this season anyway.
Full Nuggets injury report vs Lakers:
Denver is relatively healthy heading into the season as well. Vlatko Cancar is ruled out but that has been known as he had knee surgery in August. Both Julian Strawther and Jay Huff are considered day-to-day as they did not play in the last preseason game of the year.
Regardless, neither Huff or Strawther are big contributors in the Nuggets’ rotation, so it should not have much of an impact on the Lakers-Nuggets battle on Opening Night.