Do not look now, but the Los Angeles Lakers are slowly getting healthy. Their most noteworthy reinforcement is Jarred Vanderbilt, and it seems he could make his season debut in the near future. He may not be the superstar sidekick that a lot of fans are already yearning for, but his insertion back into the rotation should certainly make a difference.
The question now is how exactly will he be plopped back into the fold?
Perhaps he immediately reclaims his spot in the starting 5. He was an integral ingredient in the team’s late-season surge in 2022-2023. Plus, he could be the missing spark who could help push the team away from it’s atrocious opening quarter performance thus far in the season.
But who would he replace if he were to hop back into the starting lineup? LeBron, AD, and D’Lo are virtually locked into their spots, so it would basically come down to Taurean Prince or Cam Reddish. Prince would seem to have the veteran edge, but he is shooting just over 30% from downtown to begin the year.
Reddish has been rolling in the past few weeks and has ultimately been the better overall player between the two on both ends of the floor. A Reddish-Vando wing combo could wreak havoc defensively with Anthony Davis lurking behind them, and if Reddish can simply sustain his league-average clip from downtown (or better yet, improve on it) then the issue of spacing could be reasonably offset.
Upon Vanderbilt’s return, a rotation looking something in the ballpark of the following could make some noise:
Probable Lakers rotation once Jarred Vanderbilt returns:
PG | D’Angelo Russell = 31 MPG
SG | Cam Reddish = 23 MPG
SF | Jarred Vanderbilt = 18 MPG
PF | LeBron James = 31 MPG
C | Anthony Davis = 32 MPG
PG | Austin Reaves = 26 MPG
SG | Max Christie = 10 MPG
SF | Taurean Prince = 14 MPG
PF | Rui Hachimura = 25 MPG
C | Christian Wood = 17 MPG
PG | Jalen Hood-Schifino = 5 MPG
SG | Maxwell Lewis = Garbage + Injury Replacement Minutes
C | Jaxson Hayes = 8 MPG
PG | Gabe Vincent
The first step is getting Vando back on the court, and the next is to get the other wounded soldier Gabe Vincent back. Upon his return, we will finally unearth a more vivid understanding of what this team can do and if any changes are truly necessary.