The Los Angeles Lakers went into a rivalry game against the Boston Celtics without their two best players. Both Anthony Davis and LeBron James were ruled out of the game, leading many Lakers fans to believe that the team was simply waiving the white flag against one of the league's best teams.
To the surprise of many, the purple and gold came out firing on all cylinders in the first half of the Celtics, taking a 60-46 lead against a team that has only lost twice at home all season. A driving force for the success was Jarred Vanderbilt, who was once again proving to Darvin Ham that he should be in the starting lineup.
Unfortunately, Vanderbilt may not have the chance to be in the team's every-night starting lineup after Thursday night's first half. Shortly before halftime, Vanderbilt suffered a lower-body injury and left the game to return to the locker room.
The injury was first reported as a foot/ankle injury but fans watching the game fear that it is much worse. There was no notable misstep or rolling of the foot, which has fans worried that Vanderbilt suffered some kind of Achilles injury.
An Achilles injury to Jarred Vanderbilt would be a death note for the Lakers
The injury may not be terrifying in the sense that it was graphic, but any sort of Achilles injury to Vanderbilt is terrifying for the rest of the Lakers' season.
Los Angeles is already struggling this season and has a lot of work to do down the stretch if the team is going to make any kind of playoff run. While Ham has not given him the minutes he deserves, Vanderbilt has been a big driving force for the good moments that have happened this season.
If the Lakers are going to go on a run then they need Vando to play a bigger role and play like he was in the first half against the Celtics. Trying to go on a run without Vanderbilt is a tall order, especially with the lack of consistent wings on the roster that can defend at his level.
If Vanderbilt suffered the worst possible injury, which would be an Achilles' tear, then the Lakers would be without him not just for the rest of this season but for all of the 2024 calendar year. If that truly is the injury that was suffered then Vando may not return until after next season's All-Star Break.
Hopefully the injury is not that severe. But if it is, the Lakers are in serious trouble.