Jarred Vanderbilt believes Lakers can turn season around ‘internally’ without any major trades

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt believes that the Lakers can turn the season around without having to make a major trade at the deadline.

Los Angeles is off to a slow start this season, going 19-21 through the team’s first 40 games. Los Angeles has won just three of its last 10 games, slipping to the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference in the process.

“For sure,” Vanderbilt said. “With us, it’s just difficult ’cause people are in and out of the lineup due to injury or whatever, so it’s tough. We’re still trying to build that camaraderie, but within ourselves. But, that’s part of the season. It’s tough. Like I said, we changed lineups so much, it’s tough to try to get that consistent continuity. But, I do believe it is capable – we are capable – of doing it internally.”

The Lakers have dealt with a lot of injuries to players like Vanderbilt, Gabe Vincent, Cam Reddish, Rui Hachimura and D’Angelo Russell, which has forced head coach Darvin Ham to alter his rotation throughout the season.

Vanderbilt missed the start of the 2023-24 season with a heel injury, but he has returned to play in 19 games for the Lakers, making five starts.

Unfortunately, the Lakers haven’t been able to fully integrate all of their new offseason pieces (Vincent, Taurean Prince, Reddish, Christian Wood and Jaxson Hayes) this season. Vincent – a big offseason signing – has only played in five games due to a knee injury.

Last season, the Lakers got off to a slow start, but multiple moves at the deadline helped save the team’s season. Los Angeles brought in Vanderbilt, Russell and Hachimura in trades, and the team ended up making it to the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers have shown that they can play at a high level (by winning the league’s In-Season Tournament) in the 2023-24 season, but it hasn’t been consistent over the last several games.

Vanderbilt and his teammates have less than a month to prove to the Lakers’ front office that this core group can win a title – or at least make a deep playoff run. The Lakers would love to get back to the NBA Finals for the second time in the LeBron James era.

It’ll be interesting to see how Los Angeles plays over the next few weeks, as it could be the difference between this core staying together or the team making a major trade.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.