Jarred Vanderbilt: Lakers Should Be ‘Defensive-Minded’ To Start Games
Lakers, Jarred Vanderbilt
Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers have been consistently inconsistent when it comes to their starting five. In 49 games, they have had 14 different starting lineups, but head coach Darvin Ham has yet to return to the starting lineup that helped propel the Lakers to the Western Conference Finals last season. That lineup featured Jarred Vanderbilt alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves.

Their current go-to starting five is those four players with Taurean Prince instead of Vanderbilt. And while that lineup has been solid offensively with a 114.0 offensive rating, they have struggled mightily on the defensive end with a 118.5 defensive rating. Ham has been trying to keep things as consistent as possible by keeping this lineup together whenever everyone is healthy, but the numbers might be telling a negative story.

In Vanderbilt’s mind, the Lakers’ issue is that they are not starting games with a locked in defensive mindset, perhaps a signal to the coaching staff that he feels he should return to that starting lineup, as seen on Spectrum SportsNet:

“We just got to lock in on both ends for 48 minutes. I think we should be a defensive-minded team to start the game. I think our defense should ignite our offense. Let’s get stops, let’s get steals, let’s get out in transition, getting open looks. So I think our prime attention needs to be on that end of the floor. We got a lot of guys that can score the ball and put the ball in the basket, so I think we need to hang our hats on the defensive end.”

Vanderbilt’s heel injury is what set him back so far in the rotation at first, and while he says he’s not focused on where he plays, he does feel like his health may no longer be a factor:

“Like I said, I’m still getting there. It’s been a couple months now so I do feel great, a lot better. Obviously I don’t pay attention to the lineups, it’s not my call. I just go out there and try to play hard every single night. That’s all I can focus and worry about, I’ll let them take care of the rest.”

The Lakers have plenty that needs to be figured out if the 2023-24 season is going to be turned around. Perhaps one change could be going back to the lineup that had the most success last season and seeing if it can be replicated this year. Vanderbilt certainly seems ready for that task.

Lakers defend Jarred Vanderbilt for altercation

Vanderbilt was ejected from Monday’s game against the Houston Rockets for an altercation with known fire-starter Dillon Brooks. Brooks committed a hard foul against Vanderbilt and the Lakers forward retaliated multiple times and was tossed. After the game, Ham and Davis both rushed to Vanderbilt’s defense while criticizing Brooks.

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