While much of the attention following the Los Angeles Lakers win over the Dallas Mavericks will go towards Anthony Davis, LeBron James and D’Angelo Russell, one of the unsung heroes of the night was undoubtedly Jarred Vanderbilt.
As usual, his numbers don’t stand out with seven points and nine rebounds, but anyone watching the game could see the impact he made. He was a big reason behind a 4-of-16 shooting night from Kyrie Irving and made countless hustle plays all night long.
Vanderbilt’s health set him back to start the season as he had a lingering heel issue, but the forward admits he’s getting more comfortable with each game.
“I’m feeling better,” Vanderbilt said after the win. “Like I said, each and every game, I feel like I’m progressing, getting more comfortable, getting more in shape, more in rhythm. The more I play, the more I feel comfortable out there.”
As one of the best perimeter defenders in the league, Vanderbilt rounding into form would be huge for the Lakers. It has been a process, but one thing Vanderbilt prides himself on is always bringing maximum energy and effort any time he is on the court.
“I can always control my own energy, that’s just how I always play,” the Lakers forward added. “Just come in and just play hard. I don’t think there’s a play you can draw up to play hard. For me, just continue to chip away day by day, but like I said, this is who I am. Coming in and playing hard, will always play like that.”
And that is what the Lakers need. The roster has players who can score and create, but Vanderbilt is the dirty work guy and that type of player can really tie everything together. By bringing his energy and defense, Vanderbilt feels it rubs off on the rest of the team.
“Yeah, I think it’s contagious,” Vanderbilt added. “By me doing it and seeing them not doing it, it gives me the right to hold them accountable. Because if I rotate, they see me rotate and it kind of encourages them to rotate as well.
“It’s kind of like a string, it’s contagious. By me going after rebounds, now everybody is going after rebounds. Just continue to be that spark and hopefully it becomes contagious throughout the game.”
Vanderbilt will likely never be a player who fills up the box score, but his impact is increasing with every game and that makes the Lakers a much more dangerous team.
Jarred Vanderbilt believes Lakers have enough internally to turn season around
Now the question is whether Vanderbilt can help be a catalyst to help the Lakers turn the season around. Many feel a move must be made, but Vanderbilt feels the team has enough on the roster already.
“For sure. With us, it’s just difficult because people are in and out of the lineup due to injury or whatever, so it’s tough,” Vanderbilt said. “We’re still trying to build that camaraderie 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.”
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