Lakers News: Jarred Vanderbilt Views Role As Similar To Dennis Rodman
Jarred Vanderbilt, Lakers
Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward Jarred Vanderbilt has become one of the most essential players to the success of his team. His work on defense and rebounding ability has been critical and he is the perfect fit next to Lakers stars Anthony Davis and LeBron James. But this was not what Vanderbilt saw happening in the beginning stages of his basketball career.

Coming out of high school, Vanderbilt was a five-star recruit who nearly averaged a triple-double as a senior. But he broke his foot three times between his junior year of high school and his lone season at the University of Kentucky where he was on a loaded team led by current NBA players Shai Gilgious-Alexander and Kevin Knox.

It was at Kentucky where it was first put into his head that he could have an impact like that of NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman, and Vanderbilt now embraces that. In an interview with Jovan Buha of The Athletic, Vanderbilt noted that while it wasn’t something he grew up embracing, he believes those who understand the game value what he does:

“Growing up, I wasn’t idolizing my game after Dennis Rodman,” Vanderbilt says, again invoking the Hall of Famer’s name. “But my role, since I’ve been in the NBA, is pretty much trying to simulate what he did. … Real basketball minds and real basketball players, they don’t underestimate that value of the game.”

Rodman, of course, is the epitome of impacting the game without having to score. The Hall of Famer averaged double-figure points just once in his career but is widely considered one of the best defenders and rebounders of all time, winning Defensive Player of the Year in 1990 and 1991 while leading the NBA in rebounding seven times.

While no one is expecting Vanderbilt to put up Rodman-like rebounding numbers for the Lakers, it is that type of mindset that can make such a difference. Every team needs a player to do the dirty work like crash the glass, defend the other team’s stars, dive on the floor and just bring a different energy to the game.

By embracing that role, Vanderbilt has ensured that he will remain in the NBA for a long time as players like that remain valuable in any era.

Lakers expected to pick up 2023-24 team option on Jarred Vanderbilt

And to that point, the Lakers don’t plan on letting Jarred Vanderbilt go. The forward has a $4.7 million team option for next season and the Lakers plan on picking that option up and retaining him for next season.

Vanderbilt has proven to be a vital part of the Lakers’ rotation and keeping him on that cheap of a deal is a no-brainer decision.

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