Forwards Lakers must target after Jarred Vanderbilt’s injury

Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images

The Lakers received unfortunate news, as the right foot injury Jarred Vanderbilt suffered in the win over the Boston Celtics is expected to sideline him for several weeks and could be season-ending.

Vanderbilt had battled with injuries earlier in the season and had finally gotten into a rhythm of late. The 24-year-old was playing some of the best basketball of his career, averaging 10/6/2 with 2.2 steals in the last ten games. In those games, he has shot the ball with 66/63/73 splits. 

Vanderbilt has always been a great defensive player and rebounder, which has helped him be impactful. However, he was adding to his value of late, unlocking his offensive potential.

The injury is a big blow to the Lakers as they lose their best perimeter defender. LA wants to compete for a championship with their star duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis. 

With that in mind, here are forwards the Lakers must target to fill Vanderbilt’s role while he’s out with an injury.

Dorian Finney-Smith

Dorian Finney-Smith is a quality 3&D forward who LA has expressed interest in. Finney-Smith is averaging 9/5/1 on 41/38/70 shooting splits. 

The Nets are shopping Finney-Smith, who has two years remaining on his four-year $55 million deal, with a player option for the 2025-26 season. The six-foot-seven forward would be highly impactful for the Lakers as a point-of-attack defender while spacing the floor on offense.

While Finney-Smith would be a great role player to add, Brooklyn’s price is significant. The New York Post reported the Nets rejected an offer of two first-round picks for Finney-Smith. If that’s the case, the Purple and Gold likely don’t have the assets to make a run at the 30-year-old forward.

Royce O’Neale

Royce O’Neale is another Nets forward in whom the LakeShow has shown interest. The price for O’Neale wouldn’t be as much as Finney-Smith, making him a more realistic trade target.

The six-foot-six forward is averaging 7/5/3 on 38/36/65 shooting splits. O’Neale is in the final year of his deal, making $9.5 million.

O’Neale is a good defender and has been a reliable 38% three-point shooter throughout his career. He would give the Lakers rotation a quality role player who could help fill Vanderbilt’s role.

Kenrich Williams

Kenrich Williams is an under-the-radar target LA could have ahead of the trade deadline. Williams makes an impact with hustle plays and doing the little things for his team.

The 29-year-old is averaging 5/3/1 on 47/39/30 shooting splits. Williams is an underrated defensive player and shoots efficiently from three in his limited offensive production.

The six-foot-six forward is in the first year of a four-year $27 million deal. Williams has been impactful for the Oklahoma City Thunder, and given their 33-15 record, it’s unlikely they will move him ahead of the deadline.

Torrey Craig

Torrey Craig is a forward who could be on the move ahead of the trade deadline. Craig is a veteran who has had a respectable career as a role player. 

The 33-year-old has been out with an injury but is expected to come back soon. He is averaging 6/5/1 on 42/38/78 shooting splits. Craig is a good defender and three-point shooter who could be impactful in the rotation.

The six-foot-seven forward is on a two-year $5 million deal with a player option for next season. Craig has playoff experience and is a cheap option as a forward who could play around 20 minutes per night.

The Lakers front office has many decisions ahead of the trade deadline. Rob Pelinka should prioritize bringing in another forward, as Vanderbilt will miss a significant amount of time.

Leave a comment