Denver Nuggets forward Jarred Vanderbilt is still “a ways away” from making a return to the court, according to head coach Mike Malone.
Nuggets coach Michael Malone on injured rookie Jarred Vanderbilt (right foot surgery) today: “He’s a ways away” from getting back on the floor.
— Harrison Wind (@HarrisonWind) October 27, 2018
Vanderbilt has been plagued by injuries since before he even stepped foot on Kentucky’s campus and those nagging issues have followed him to the pros.
The second-round pick signed a three-year, $4 million deal back in July with the expectation that his rookie season in the NBA may be a lost one.
The foot/ankle problems that caused him to miss all but 14 games during his freshman year at Kentucky are still affecting him at the next level. It’s unclear at this point what type of player Vanderbilt will be when he does finally get to full health, but there is a sense that the Nuggets want to keep him for the long haul.
Vanderbilt averaged 5.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in 17.0 minutes per game when he was “healthy” at Kentucky and was one of the most unique prospects that has ever come through Lexington.
A healthy Vanderbilt could be perfectly molded for today’s NBA. Despite not having a consistent outside shot, Vanderbilt’s ability to run the floor and pass with both flair and accuracy for a big man is invaluable. He was an elite rebounder during his time at Kentucky and could pair perfectly next to Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic.
At this point, it doesn’t sound too optimistic that Vanderbilt is going to see the court anytime soon or even before the regular season ends. But, the Nuggets don’t necessarily need him right now and appear content with letting him return to full strength before they think about seriously incorporating him into their plans.
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