Could Jarred Vanderbilt sneak into the first round? Probably not. But The Ringer suggests that the team that selects Jarred Vanderbilt can end up with a steal during Thursday’s NBA Draft. The article talks about two great high school recruits (Vanderbilt and former UK target Malik Newman) and how their disappointing college careers have hurt their NBA Draft stock. However, despite once being thought of as lottery picks both can still be impact players at the next level.
“There aren’t many players at any level of basketball with Vanderbilt’s skill set. At 6-foot-9 and 214 pounds with a 7-foot-1 wingspan, he’s a freakish athlete with the ability to defend players at all five positions. He grabbed a higher percentage of total rebounds when he was on the floor (25.7 percent) than any of John Calipari’s players in his eight seasons in Lexington. DeMarcus Cousins (22.5 percent) is the only other of Calipari’s players who even made it above 20 percent. And once Vanderbilt cleaned the defensive glass, he could lead the break himself and create easy shots for his teammates in transition.”
In only a 14 game sample size that’s watered down a bit, but it’s still almost hard to believe. All the great bigs that Calipari has coached and Vanderbilt had the best rebounding percentage. It’s a shame we didn’t get Vanderbilt healthy for an entire season, or even half of the season, because if he averaged those numbers in a larger sample size we’re talking about a fringe lottery pick, maybe even top 10.
But despite his freakish rebounding numbers, The Ringer points out that Vanderbilt was atrocious offensively. He ranked in the 21st percentile at finishing at the rim and was below 65 percent from the free throw line. I always chalked it up to jitters and Vanderbilt never being comfortable on the offensive end, but even that wouldn’t be enough for NBA teams to excuse all his missed layups and lack of an outside shot.
The Ringer did bring up another good point in the article, UK’s roster wasn’t conducive to Vanderbilt’s game. The Cats didn’t have a plethora of reliable options from the perimeter and that allowed defensive to muddy up the paint. If UK had more shooters than Vanderbilt could have had more one-on-one opportunities on the block or from 12-feet out. But again, I still think Vanderbilt was just incredibly rusty offensively.
The Ringer also brought up a silly point in the article, suggesting that Vanderbilt was lost in a crowded frontcourt even when healthy. UK desperately needed Vanderbilt and he probably played more minutes than UK wanted to play him coming off an injury. The Cats needed another tough frontcourt body.
Interestingly enough The Ringer suggests Vanderbilt’s path to NBA stardom is at the five. It’s not the most outlandish thing I’ve ever heard if he can continue to bulk up.