Though Jarred Vanderbilt is not the most well-known player among the many trade-deadline additions the Los Angeles Lakers made, he has become one of the central figures in the team’s second-half turnaround. As the Lakers posted the best record in the West and the second-best defense in the league since Feb. 11, Vanderbilt fit in as an ideal frontcourt complement to LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
Vanderbilt is also imprinting his all-out style on the rest of the team. Lakers coach Darvin Ham calls him the team’s “Energizer Bunny.” Austin Reaves says he’s “the best defender in the NBA.” D’Angelo Russell, reunited with Vanderbilt after the two were teammates in Minnesota from 2020 to 2022, goes one step further.
“Vando’s making all these Dennis Rodman plays for us,” he says.
For Vanderbilt, playing hard is a skill honed like any other.
“There’s a lot that goes into it,” Vanderbilt told The Athletic. “It’s energy, but it’s being smart with it too. Like, I know who I can pick up. I know when to back up. I know, just reading the scouting report, when I can shoot the gaps and try to go for a steal. Going certain directions on whoever the player is. So it’s a lot of film and studying that goes into it as well.”
Walter Cornett, of Glendale, Kentucky, is the owner and operator of Walter’s Wildcat World. He founded WildcatWorld.com in 1998 making it one of the oldest Kentucky basketball fan sites in operation today.