In a season where many breaks haven’t gone their way this season, the Lakers may have been dealt the biggest blow yet on Thursday. The news of Jarred Vanderbilt’s injury ruling him out for anywhere from several weeks to potentially the end of the season leaves the purple and gold in a precarious situation.
The trade deadline being less than a week both aids and hurts the situation. On one hand, it gives the Lakers options to replace Vando’s production, but on the other hand, teams are aware of the sense of urgency they’ll be operating with.
There are other ways and avenues to replace Vando, but who should they be looking at? Here are five targets the Lakers can look at to replace their Swiss army knife.
Bruce Brown, Raptors
This isn’t a new name — admittedly, few of these will be — but it’s a name I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lakers increase their focus on. No one can directly replace everything Vando does, but Brown does a lot of very useful things and can fill in some of those holes.
Defensively, he’s a capable defender that can replace the void on that side of the ball. Offensively, he’s a bit more traditional of a 3-and-D wing even if he’s only shooting 33.9% from range, but he offers enough in other areas on that end as he’s shooting 47.8% from the field and 54.5% on 2-pointers this year.
He’s also a very solid finisher as he ranks in the 73rd percentile among wings while shooting 69% at the rim, per Cleaning The Glass. He also takes a fair amount of short mid-range jumpers —defined as shots from four feet out to the free throw line — as he ranks in the 98th percentile in frequency and 67th percentile in accuracy for wings.
Dorian Finney-Smith, Royce O’Neale, Nets
Two more names the team has already been pursuing but, again, could become more serious targets. Both are traditional 3-and-D wings with Finney-Smith shooting 38.3% from range and O’Neale 36.1%.
One of Finney-Smith's encouraging statistics is his corner 3-point shooting, an area in which the Lakers have struggled this year. He ranks in the 94th percentile in frequency and is shooting 43% on those attempts, ranking in the 71st percentile. Comparatively, Taurean Prince and Vando are first and second on the Lakers in frequency, respectively, for corner 3-pointers and each is shooting 35%.
Both are good rebounders for their size, another way they could help fill a different void left by Vando.
Not every candidate to replace Vando has to come from another team. For a variety of reasons, some in his control and some not, Hachimura hasn’t had the season most likely expected after his big postseason.
But there is probably no one on the roster better positioned to step up in Vando’s absence now. Hachimura has gotten a good run to get back in the groove and has had a couple of strong performances, including his 10 points in the fourth quarter against the Celtics.
Hachimura and Vando are not the same player, but it was Hachimura who supplanted Vando in the lineup in the team’s biggest game last year in the postseason. He offers the team more offensively and while it’ll be a step back defensively, no one on the roster is replacing that aspect of Vando’s game.
If no deal is made, and maybe even if there is, Hachimura could see an increase in minutes...assuming he’s not one of the players dealt away.
Gordon Hayward, Hornets
This final one is a little off-the-wall, but who doesn’t like imagining some scenarios? Hayward is on an expiring deal with the Hornets and, with a trade unlikely given his enormous contract, he is a great buyout candidate.
The Lakers, meanwhile, have both an open roster spot and a need for a wing. It would be a risky move with Hayward’s injury history — he’s missed 21 of the Hornets’ 46 games this season alone — but if he is able to stay healthy, it’d be a big win for the Lakers.
Because of his injury issues, I can’t imagine this is in any way Plan A for the Lakers. And even if it works, he’s not a direct replacement for Vando in hardly any way, but he is an intriguing option that could be worth taking a swing at.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.