NBA scout proclaims Jarred Vanderbilt as arguably best guard defender at big man position

Brad Sullivan
3 Min Read

In the opinion of an Eastern Conference scout, Los Angeles Lakers power forward Jarred Vanderbilt is among the top big men who are capable of defending against opposing guards.

Dan Woike and the Los Angeles Times discussed with three NBA insiders the Lakers’ upcoming playoff matchup against the Golden State Warriors.

“I think you’ve got to mix it up a bit, you have to impact the ball,” said an Eastern Conference scout. “The bigs have to be up and committed and also challenging shots. Vanderbilt can guard guards on the perimeter as good as any big in the league.”

Vanderbilt was acquired by the Lakers in February as part of the multi-team deal that also brought D’Angelo Russell back to the team. Prior to those trades, Vanderbilt had played for three other NBA squads.

The path taken by Vanderbilt has certainly been a wild one, with the 6-foot-8 power forward originally being drafted by the Orlando Magic in 2018 with the 41st overall pick. Multiple trips to the G League took place before he eventually developed into an effective defender.

In each of his three previous regular seasons, Vanderbilt has averaged at least one steal per game and has also averaged 6.6 rebounds for his NBA career.

During the Lakers’ playoff upset of the Memphis Grizzlies, Vanderbilt defended against the Grizzlies’ standout guard Ja Morant. After averaging 26.2 points per game during the regular season, Morant managed 24.6 points in his five games against the Lakers.

In addition, Morant shot just 42.5 percent in the Lakers series, compared to his overall season percentage of 46.6 percent. Vanderbilt helped truly shut down Morant in the series clincher last Friday, when the guard managed a miserable 3-for-16 on his field goal attempts.

Given that success, Vanderbilt could be given an even bigger challenge against the Warriors by defending future Hall of Famer Stephen Curry.

Even before his remarkable 50-point performance on Sunday, Curry had long ago established himself as an elite guard who can shoot from virtually anywhere on the court.

Toppling the defending champions is a tall task for any team. However, if the Lakers can pull it off, Vanderbilt may be worthy of plenty of accolades.

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Brad is a freelance writer for, who can clearly recall watching Lakers games in 1972 as they captured the first of their 11 Los Angeles-based titles. The franchise's evolution into a beloved and iconic franchise among its fan base since that memorable year allows for a wider perspective to be a part of his writing about the team's current fortunes.