Lakers News: Jarred Vanderbilt Discussed What He Worked On This Past Offseason
Jarred Vanderbilt, Stephen Curry, Lakers, Warriors
Cary Edmondson-USA TODAY Sports

With the additions of Taurean Prince and Christian Wood to the Los Angeles Lakers frontcourt, and the emergence of Rui Hachimura in last year’s playoffs, forward Jarred Vanderbilt has become kind of a forgotten man. After being acquired at the trade deadline last year, Vanderbilt became a staple in the Lakers’ starting lineup due to his lockdown defense on the perimeter.

But his offensive struggles, namely as a perimeter shooter, forced him off the court as the Lakers got deeper in the playoffs. And now it seems like there is a possibility he will be on the outskirts of Darvin Ham’s rotation.

But Vanderbilt has worked hard this offseason to improve both offensively and defensively coming into this year. “Individually I would say a lot on both ends of the floor,” Vanderbilt said when asked what he worked to improve this offseason.

“Being able to shoot the ball, I worked a lot on shooting. Finishing, ball handling, just pretty much touching up everything. As well as defensively, getting stronger, getting faster, getting more agile. I feel like each and every summer I try to just get better in every aspect of the game.”

Because he is already so good as a defender, many believe Vanderbilt’s focus this offseason should be solely on the offensive side of the ball and he was seen putting in that work as well. But the forward knows defense is his calling card and thus is always looking to improve on that as well.

In particular, Vanderbilt wants to better be able to defend those quicker point guards the league has to offer and thus really worked on his conditioning and agility. “My biggest focus this summer with that is obviously strength and really just conditioning,” the Lakers forward added. “It’s a lot being able to chase those guys around especially at my size, so I would say conditioning and just being agile, being able to chase these guys around.

“Direction of screens, fighting through screens and just being able to switch out on defenders or whatever the case may be. But I think the main focus for me was also being able to guard bigger guys as well, so I think strength played a factor. And just trying to be a guy that can guard one through five and that’s my goal for the season.”

The Lakers employed Vanderbilt on both Ja Morant and Stephen Curry during the postseason and he did a solid job in helping to contain the All-Stars. With the Lakers having a bigger backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves, neither of whom should ideally be defending those types of guards, that responsibility could fall to Vanderbilt.

There remains a battle for that fifth spot in the starting lineup and with so much offense already in that group, Vanderbilt could lock down that role if he can show he is the best option to defend the opposing team’s best player regardless of position.

Jarred Vanderbilt says it ‘means a lot’ to sign long-term extension with Lakers

The Lakers definitely believe in Vanderbilt and appreciate what he means to this team as was shown by the four year, $48 million contract extension he signed this summer. And for Vanderbilt, that belief in him by the franchise is important.

“I’ve been on quite a few teams, so being able to lock in with one of these organizations means a lot,” Vanderbilt said. “It’s just a product of hard work. The work that I put in and finally see the results come to fruition it’s an amazing process.

“Also being able to be part of a winning team, a winning culture such as the Lakers it was a win-win situation for me. I’m excited to be back, excited to be here and I’m looking forward to it this season.”

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