Lakers’ Jarred Vanderbilt Opens Up on Playing With LeBron James, Anthony Davis

Anthony Davis, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Getty LeBron James #6 and Anthony Davis #3 of the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Los Angeles Lakers signed forward Jarred Vanderbilt to a four-year, $48 million contract, a move that rewards him for his efforts after the trade deadline last season. L.A. acquired Vanderbilt from the Utah Jazz in a three-team deal that also included the Minnesota Timberwolves in February.

He averaged 7.2 points, 6.7 rebounds, 1.6 assists, and 1.2 steals in 24 minutes per game across 26 appearances with 24 starts.

It was a transition Vanderbilt says was made “easier” by LeBron James and Anthony Davis.

“They just so efficient in what they do on and off the court,” Vanderbilt said on the “Run Your Race” podcast on September 19. “Having guys, they just made the game so much easier for you, they just such high IQ, high-level players that it made our jobs easier.”

The Lakers went 18-8 after the deadline, course-correcting their season after a 2-10 start and making it to the Western Conference Finals.

“Everybody that came in, we were [able] to play alongside those guys,” Vanderbilt said. “I think that’s why we were able to take off because we d*** near complemented what they needed at the time. So, playing with them, they was, s***, pretty much just leading the way. It’s huge when, especially coming in mid-season, for the top players to just kind of accept you and teach you … They just made our transition so much smoother.”

The Lakers posted a minus-2.4 net rating with Vanderbilt on the floor last season, per Cleaning The Glass. But that number jumped to plus-18.8 when he shared the floor with both Davis and James.

It was a promising start, albeit in a small sample size.

“We just started clicking,” Vanderbilt said. “We was connected at the time even though it was a short time.”


Jarred Vanderbilt: Guarding Stephen Curry a ‘Tough Task’

During the Lakers’ run to the WCF, they had to overcome the reigning champion Golden State Warriors. Vanderbilt drew the inevitable responsibility of having to guard All-World point guard Stephen Curry.

“We ran like three miles that game. I’m chasing Steph around. … I actually got hurt that second game. I think Moses Moody fell on my leg. So, at that point, I’m a little hobbled and I still got to chase him,” Vanderbilt said. “Steph just non-stop moving. It’s a tough task. People don’t realize it’s a tough task being the guy that gotta chase somebody around.”

Vanderbilt held Curry to 2-for-7 shooting in the roughly 18 minutes he was matched up against the four-time champion, per NBA.com.

That includes 1-for-4 on shots from beyond the arc.


Nikola Jokic ‘Just Different,’ Jarred Vanderbilt Says

Vanderbilt also spoke on Denver Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic, his former teammate for 1.5 seasons when he first entered the league in 2018.

“I seen it Day 1. He was just different,” Vanderbilt said. “Once he realized how nice he was, and the impact he could do, when he was there he was always just super nice. But they were kind of pushing him [to] go get MVP… Once he got to realizing he could do that sh-t, it was over with at that point. ”

Jokic, a two-time MVP, averaged 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds, 11.8 assists, 1.3 blocks, and 1.3 steals in the Nuggets’ sweep of the Lakers. The former No. 41 overall pick of the draft in 2014, Jokic upped his scoring output in the Finals and averaged a triple-double throughout the playoffs en route to the title.

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