Timberwolves Jarred Vanderbilt impacts games without shooting jumpshots

Jarred Vanderbilt has been invaluable to the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images)
Jarred Vanderbilt has been invaluable to the Minnesota Timberwolves this season. (Photo by Katelyn Mulcahy/Getty Images) /

Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jarred Vanderbilt has made a name for himself this season by being a solid role player. He’s not going to suddenly break out with a scoring frenzy as a hot-handed trey marksman off the bench. But he does make his presence felt on the defensive court. When the Timberwolves need a rebound, Vanderbilt comes through in the clutch.

‘Vando’ is notable for being a strong rebounding presence and supporting cast for the Timberwolves around the basket. 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. But that’s on the offensive side of the court.

Often you can see Vanderbilt pulling rebounds down through two or three opposing players due to this skillset. His toughness factor is also unmatched on the Timberwolves roster and often is willing to do the dirty work defending the best scorers around the league.

Defense now, offense later

Throughout the season Vando has led the Minnesota Timberwolves in dunks, which further adds to the energy that he creates within his role. He even had a streak at the start of the new calendar year where he put up 87 rebounds over seven games. That’s an average of more than 12 rebounds per game.

For a player whose season high scoring mark was 21 points,  but who averaged a mere 6.9 points per game in 2021-22, Vanderbilt must look for other ways to impact the games. It seems that he has found that niche for now. And there is reason to believe that he will deliver more on the offensive side of the court as time passes.   After all, he’s already made significant progress in scoring.

What might that mean going forward? Well, he’s avoid three-point range, so the most likely avenue for points is to develop an arsenal from short to mid range. Nothing too splashy, just enough to give teammates a scoring option to throw off defenders. And at his current rate of development, 10-12 points per game are not out of the question.

The Timberwolves have proven that they can score points. The team is less effective at defense, despite Vangerbilt’s heroics. But defense takes time, and that is something that the front office is looking to improve upon this off-season.

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