The Lakers are currently 13th in the Western Conference standings. Down a game and a half from the 10th spot, the Lakers need to find a spark in their next 22 games to find themselves in playoff contention.
Before the trade deadline the Lakers made a much-needed decision to move Russell Westbrook. Something that has been two seasons in discussion. In return they received Jarred Vanderbilt and Malik Beasley from Utah.
Naturally it takes time to see if the acquisitions will pay off. Players need the opportunity to acclimate themselves to one another and find their role on the team.
It seems as if the Lakers do not have to wait much longer to figure out the role of Vanderbilt.
Entering the third quarter against the Dallas Mavericks the Lakers trailed 61-47. In the eight minutes Vanderbilt played he put up a stat line of 8 PTS, 1 AST, 8 REB, 3 STL.
As Doris Burke said during Vanderbilt’s performance, he is also doing the things that do not show up on the stat sheet.
When he left the floor, the Lakers trailed by 6 points 75-69.
Vanderbilt is bringing the necessary fire the Lakers need to make their gains in the standings. His intensity seems to be inspiring.
Vanderbilt would end with 15 PTS, 17 REB, 4 STL and a +/- of 14. This is his best game since the trade took place on Feb. 09.
As long as Vanderbilt can continue to do the dirty work, he will allow for LeBron James and Anthony Davis to thrive.