Has Time Come For Lakers To Start Hachimura Rather Than Vanderbilt?

LakerTom
2 min readApr 20, 2023

After blowing a golden opportunity to steal a second road win from the #2 Memphis Grizzlies, the #7 Los Angeles Lakers would be smart to consider starting Rui Hachimura over Jarred Vanderbilt for the rest of this series.

Hachimura has been the Lakers best player on offense, posting a gaudy 133.3 OffRtg for the two games and tying LeBron James with a team best 24.5 points per game for the series while also playing well defensively.
Rui’s ability to score efficiently from all three levels has opened up the Lakers’ offense. After leading the Lakers to the win with 29 points in Game 1, Hachimura followed up by scoring 20 points in the L.A.’s Game 2 loss.

Meanwhile, Vanderbilt has struggled offensively, especially around in the paint. Jarred reminds fans of Ben Simmons when he gets the ball near the basket. His offensive struggles were a lethal killer in yesterdays’ loss.
The Grizzlies showing the Lakers they can raise the defensive pressure to another level puts L.A. in a tough spot. The Lakers may need Hachimura’s offense more than they need Vanderbilt’s defense in this specific series.

Hachimura is averaging 24.5 points, 5.5 rebounds, 1.5 assists, 0.5 steals, and 0 blocks in 29.5 minutes per game in the series. His advanced stats include a team best 133.5 OffRtg, 5th best 118.8 DefRtg, and 4th best +15.3 NetRtg.
Vanderbilt is averaging 6.0 points, 5.5 rebound, 0.0 assists, 1.0 steals, 0.5 blocks in 22.5 minutes per game. His advanced stats inclued a team worst 112.0 OffRtg, 2nd worst 120.0 DefRtg, and 2nd worst -8.0 NetRtg.

Ham has already responded to Hachimura’s superior play by giving him minutes that used to go to Vanderbilt. Hachimura 29.8 minutes per game is 5th highest on team in the series whereas Vando’s minutes dropped to 6th
The Lakers’ next step could be to replace Vanderbilt in the starting lineup with Hachimura. Statistically, Hachimura has been the Lakers’ best and Vanderbilt the Lakers’ worst offensive player so far in this series.

Ham will likely keep the same starting lineup for Game 3 with Vanderbilt knowing he needs to be aggressive and score near the rim rather than just passing the ball out. If he struggles again, Hachimura could start Game 4.

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LakerTom

Lakers fanatic since 1971 when team traded for Wilt Chamberlain. Founder, editor, and publisher of Lakerholics.com, a community for smart informed Lakers fans.