Report: Lakers plan to make huge shift to starting lineup beginning Saturday vs. Thunder

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers reportedly plan to make a huge shift to their starting lineup by sitting D’Angelo Russell and starting Jarred Vanderbilt beginning with Saturday’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Vanderbilt — who missed the first month and change of the 2023-24 regular season due to a heel injury — is averaging 0.9 points, 3.8 rebounds and 0.8 assists per game while shooting 18.8 percent from the field across eight appearances for the Lakers.

While Vanderbilt’s numbers indicate that he has had difficulty scoring the ball so far this season, he is one of the team’s better defenders, and he’s still trying to get his footing on the offensive end after missing considerable time.

Meanwhile, Russell — who will reportedly be replaced by Vanderbilt in the starting lineup — is averaging 15.3 points, 3.1 rebounds and 6.3 assists per game this season while shooting 46.2 percent from the field, 38.0 percent from behind the 3-point arc and 77.2 percent from the free-throw line.

The floor general hasn’t played at the top of his game lately, however. He has failed to reach double digits in scoring in two out of his last three games. Russell scored just two points against the Chicago Bulls on Dec. 20 and nine against the New York Knicks on Dec. 18.

Ever since beating the Indiana Pacers in the In-Season Tournament championship, the Lakers have struggled to win games. The team is currently on a four-game losing streak and owns the ninth-best record in the Western Conference at this point at 15-14.

The Lakers’ next chance to snap their losing streak will come on Saturday when they take on the Thunder on the road. The Thunder own the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference and have won three games in a row, with their wins coming against the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Los Angeles Clippers.

Hopefully, Vanderbilt’s defensive chops will prove to be just what the doctor ordered for the Lakers as they look to snap their losing streak and get back on track this season.

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Jesse is a sports journalist with extensive experience covering the NBA. He has worked as a staff writer covering the Lakers’ dreaded rivals, the Boston Celtics, for SB Nation. He has also covered the New York Knicks for The Knicks Wall.