Anthony Davis and Jarred Vanderbilt have played 179 minutes together in nine games since the latter was dealt to the Los Angeles Lakers from the Utah Jazz. That’s the fifth-most minutes of any two-man unit on the Lakers in the last 10 games. In that time, they’ve seen some staggering results.
Offensively, they’re not elite, but they’ve managed to be productive despite both players not shooting 3-pointers particularly well. They have a 110.9 offensive rating, the sixth-best of any Lakers two-man lineup with at least 100 minutes played over the last 10 games.
But where they really change the game for the Lakers is on defense, where they share a defensive rating of 98.7. Of L.A.’s combos with at least 100 minutes, that ranks third, with only Davis and Troy Brown Jr, and Davis with Rui Hachimura ahead.
The Lakers are a defensive juggernaut with Vanderbilt and Davis on the floor. Vanderbilt notices the seamless fit between the two lengthy defenders. “It’s been great. AD is an easy guy to play with on both ends. On the defensive end, he communicates well. That’s what you ask for in a big man, especially since he’s our last line of defense. Him being able to communicate but also being able to react, that’s what makes him so unique,” Vanderbilt said of Davis.
“He can do both, he can talk and he can react. For me being on the perimeter, having a guy like AD behind me, I can be a lot more aggressive knowing I have a second line of defense. And then offensively, just playing off him. He’s super skilled and can play anywhere on the floor so just trying to be in those gaps and just trying to help him in that area as well.”
Vanderbilt then spoke specifically about the Lakers having the No. 1 defensive rating since the trade deadline, believing others deserve credit for that as well.
“It feels great. It feels like we’re everywhere on the court. I know me and AD are getting a lot of the credit, but even guys like Troy and Austin and even Dennis, they’ve stepped it up on that end as well. So I think that’s a collective effort. As a group, we’ve all just been locked in on that end of the floor.”
Having the league’s best defensive rating over a stretch of time is very rarely the work of one or two players. It often takes a collective effort from all five players on the court and when subs make their way into the game.
Vanderbilt being so willing to credit his teammates also shows how quickly the Lakers have developed chemistry in such a dire standings situation. But it all starts with the effort that Vanderbilt and Davis put in on a nightly basis.
Davis: Lakers aren’t satisfied
While the Lakers have done plenty of work to move from No. 13 in the Western Conference to No. 9, they have no interest in letting their foot off the gas pedal.
Davis says the team’s goal is to continue climbing and potentially find their way out of the Play-In Tournament altogether. It’s not unreasonable, as L.A. sits 1.5 games back of the sixth-seeded Golden State Warriors, who the Lakers have a tiebreaker with. The Lakers have 16 games left and the Warriors have 15.
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