4 Lakers Who Need More Playing Time for a Championship Run

The Lakers need to go on a run in the final stretch of the season. Coach Darvin Ham needs to play these four players more to do so.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Jarred Vanderbilt

The 24-year-old forward is currently dealing with an injury and will be out for another week or two. He has been dealing with minor ailments all season, limiting him to only 29 appearances and 20 minutes per game. But when he returns, he should have a big role for the Lakers the rest of the way.

When Vanderbilt was acquired mid-season at last year's trade deadline, he gave a significant boost to the Lakers' defense. His size, versatility, and athleticism make him one of the best defensive playmakers on the roster. At 6'8, he has the ability to guard multiple positions, and that will come in handy in the playoffs when the Lakers have to face elite offensive creators in every series.

Having Vanderbilt on the court eases the defensive burden of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Especially if D'Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves are on the floor at the same time, James and Davis have to spend a lot of energy on the backline covering for their defensive shortcomings. If Vanderbilt is there, he provides more resistance on the perimeter, but also as a help defender on the weak side.

Vando has his offensive limitations, as he is an unwilling and incapable shooter. This creates spacing problems for the Lakers, so coach Ham needs to get creative about when and how to use the versatile forward. Yet, what he brings on the defensive end is too valuable for the Lakers to spend the majority of the time on the bench.