Since the trade deadline, the Los Angeles Lakers have looked like an entirely different team and have more room for error. The perfect example is their win against the Dallas Mavericks where they came back from 27 points down in an impressive display of effort and tenacity.
Although the Lakers were led by Anthony Davis and LeBron James, it was Jarred Vanderbilt who keyed the second-half run. Vanderbilt was the primary defender on Luka Doncic, a challenge that he enjoyed, but was also a factor on the offensive end.
Despite being a limited player on offense, Vanderbilt was able to make a difference with his rebounding and timely cuts to the basket. James spoke of Vanderbilt’s basketball IQ and how it enables him to be effective, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“I think some guys in our league when you’re not great at something, teams are able to use that to their advantage defensively. They can sag off of you or play off of you or sometimes you’re playing offense that’s five-on-four whatever the case may be. His basketball IQ and his intelligence of being guarded this way for so long has actually used it to his advantage. So him, Like AD said, being able to…teams turn their head because they’re not paying attention to him cause they don’t think he’s a threat. Goes backdoor for a layup as you saw in the fourth quarter on the reverse. Teams are not accounting for him when shots go up, so you saw the eight offensive rebounds that he had. And then his energy, his effort alone. He knows where to be on every single possession and he knows how to utilize teams not accounting for him as an offensive threat. That is basketball IQ in his own right and that’s what makes him the player he is.”
Against the Mavericks, Vanderbilt scored 15 points to go along with 17 rebounds. Most of his shots came right at the rim, though he did display some extended range as he drained his only triple of the night from the corner.
With the Lakers revolving around James and Anthony Davis, they just need complementary role players like Vanderbilt to fill in the gaps. However, he’s done much more than that in his brief stint in L.A. and he looks like a long-term piece for the team going forward. And now with James missing time due to a foot injury, Vanderbilt will likely be tasked with doing even more for L.A. on both ends of the floor.
Jason Kidd admits Jarred Vanderbilt kicked Mavericks’ ass
Jason Kidd wasn’t happy with his team’s performance against the Lakers, going so far as to say they needed to mature and grow up. In that same vein, he also made sure to compliment Vanderbilt for how well he played against them.
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