Vanderbilt explained that he takes pride in being able to guard the other team’s best player, no matter what position he plays.
Jarred Vanderbilt on his defense on Luka Doncic: "I like that challenge every single night, being able to guard the best player 1 through 5. That's my value and my impact on this team."
— Lakers Daily (@LakersDailyCom) February 27, 2023
Vanderbilt helped hold Doncic to just 26 points on 10-of-22 shooting on Sunday in the Lakers’ win. By Doncic’s standards (he’s averaging well over 30 points per game), Sunday was a bit of a down performance.
The Lakers forward did a little bit of everything, posting a double-double in the process. He scored 15 points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field, grabbed a team-high 17 rebounds and came away with four steals.
It’s hard to find a more complete performance than Vanderbilt’s game on Sunday.
The Lakers acquired Vanderbilt in a three-team deal with the Utah Jazz and Minnesota Timberwolves at this season’s trade deadline. While guard D’Angelo Russell highlighted the return for the Lakers, Vanderbilt is proving that he can be an extremely valuable piece in the team’s rotation.
A lengthy defender and elite rebounder, Vanderbilt gives the Lakers a ton of flexibility on the defensive end of the floor. He’s not the greatest scorer in the world, but he plays his role very well.
With the Lakers angling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, Vanderbilt’s defensive prowess should play a huge role.
Vanderbilt has the size to guard larger wings like Kevin Durant and the athleticism to stay with players like Doncic. The team may move his defensive assignment around as it sees fit if it makes the playoffs this season.
If both teams lose, Los Angeles will stay in the No. 11 spot, just one game behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the final play-in tournament spot.
It’s great to see Vanderbilt buying into and thriving in his role even though he’s only been with the team for a few weeks. The Lakers are certainly counting on him, Russell and Malik Beasley to bring an added punch to the roster that it lacked earlier in the season.