Timberwolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt has made a name for himself this season by being a fantastic role player. Let’s take a look at what makes him so invaluable to the Wolves.
3 Attributes That Make Jarred Vanderbilt Invaluable to the Timberwolves
Vanderbilt is notable for being a strong rebounding presence and supporting cast for the Wolves’ Big Three. His toughness factor is unmatched on the Timberwolves roster and is up there with the likes of the best around the league.
1. Rebounding presence
Vanderbilt’s ability to pull down key offensive rebounds comes partially from his athleticism and strength, but there are more athletic players out there that can’t do quite what Vando does. Vanderbilt almost always follows up shots by jumping into the paint and finding the optimal position to fight for a board.
He stands out for his ability to read shots as they come off the rim and has perfected his ability to time and tip the ball in his favor when battling with big and tough opponents. Often you can see Vanderbilt pulling rebounds down around and over multiple opposing players due to this skill set.
Minnesota currently ranks third in both offensive rebounds per game and offensive rebound rate, and Vanderbilt leads the stat for the team (3.2 per game) and is second only to Karl-Anthony Towns in total rebounds per game by a narrow margin, 9.3 vs 9.1 per game.
2. Cutting for easy buckets
The Timberwolves’ new offense this season has placed a lot of emphasis on the Big Three, and rightly so, but when just a handful of guys are known around the league as scorers, it opens up opportunities for teams to overplay the stars on Minnesota’s offense.
This has recently led to Vanderbilt getting more and more impactful as a scorer of easy buckets. He makes fantastic cuts to the basket and is often a source of assists for the team. In last Sunday’s matchup against the Houston Rockets, Vanderbilt scored a season-high 21 points on 10-of-14 shooting, though it may be a stretch to use the word ‘shooting’.
Vanderbilt put down at least half of his scoring total as dunks, and the rest were buckets earned in the paint, beating down on the young Houston roster.
3. Tenacity against big-time scorers
Vanderbilt has filled the missing role of big and tough defender that Wolves fans have been looking for.
He routinely guards some of the most athletic frontcourt players around the NBA. His assignments this year have covered the likes of Giannis, LeBron, and others, and he’s done so with impressive success. Being able to take on that role and relieve the pressure off of KAT defensively has allowed the Wolves to remain more efficient as a team.
Vanderbilt also leads the team in steals per game at 1.6, which is a relatively rare feat for a non-guard.
These three factors have allowed Vanderbilt to play a pivotal role on the Timberwolves roster and fill in the gaps in the skillset for their starting lineups.
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game against New Orleans, we can expect Vanderbilt to bring his same energy, athleticism, and toughness back on the road to bring the Timberwolves back closer to a .500 record.