Lakers benched: Jarred Vanderbilt
Yes, this means that Jaxson Hayes is going to be the player that is cut in this situation. More on that later once we get to the Hayes point in this article.
There is a path in which Jarred Vanderbilt sees reduced playing time and he is no longer on the team or is completely out of the playoff rotation by the time April of 2024 rolls around. After all, Vanderbilt saw his minutes drop drastically in the playoffs last season as he is a non-factor on the offensive side of the court.
Vanderbilt’s offensive game certainly hurts his overall value to the Lakers but he makes up for it with what he brings defensively. This is even more important when the Lakers have someone like Wood who does not defend as well as a group of perimeter defenders who are not the best.
Vanderbilt suddenly becomes an important glue guy that can tie various lineups together. Whether it be making up for Wood’s defensive inefficiencies or D’Angelo Russell’s inefficiencies, Vando is going to be helping the collective.
There are a lot of players in the frontcourt this year, which could cause Vando to be drowned out. The likes of Rui Hachimura and Taurean Prince also need to get their minutes. But at the end of the day, the Lakers seem far more likely to run lineups with a small five (either Vando or Hachimura) than giving a prominent role to Hayes.