The Lakers are making a big change ahead of the biggest game of their season on Friday. With a chance to close out the Warriors in Game 6 of the Western Conference second round, the Lakers will replace Jarred Vanderbilt in the starting lineup with Dennis Schröder.
Dennis Schroder steps into the starting lineup in place of Jarred Vanderbilt tonight.— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) May 13, 2023
Wiggins is also active pic.twitter.com/k4IOTxAQbv
Dave McMenamin of ESPN initially reported that the Lakers would make a lineup change before Game 6, and Ham hinted at such in his pregame availability.
Dave Mcmeanin just reported after the Lakers’ coaching staff’s film session on Friday, they’re considering a lineup change that could see Vanderbilt out of the starting lineup and would start either Rui or Lonnie.— Richard Staple, BSN, RN (@RichStapless) May 12, 2023
Darvin Ham, who rarely gives away his starting lineup, on if Jarred Vanderbilt will start Game 6: “Next question.” (Ham said it with a smile.)— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) May 13, 2023
The Lakers had used the same starting lineup for the first 11 games of the playoffs and were 7-4 with it. However, with the postseason all about adjustments and the Warriors having gone small in recent games, the Lakers responded with an adjustment of their own.
With Golden State going smaller, Schröder helps the Lakers matchup better. He will likely take the assignment of defending Steph Curry but also will help the Lakers offensively as well. The three-guard lineups featuring Schröder, Austin Reaves and D’Angelo Russell have a net rating of +4 in the postseason after having a +39.7 net rating in 96 minutes in the regular season.
Vanderbilt, meanwhile, had limitations offensively, and Golden State continually adjusted to take advantage of them. At times, Vanderbilt played a big role in the team including in their Game 3 victory in which his versatility defensively allowed the Lakers to switch liberally and win in a blowout.
His role in this contest will be interesting now. He could still play a role off the bench, but his 2-11 shooting from the 3-point line has negated much of his already limited offensive production. He still certainly has defensive value and the Lakers could use him in different ways to take advantage of that tonight.
It’s all a gamble for the Lakers, but so far this offseason, Darvin Ham and his staff have pushed lots of right buttons. If they get it right once more in this contest, it could end the series and dethrone the defending champions.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.