Jarred Vanderbilt could be front and center in a rebuild

When the Utah Jazz traded Rudy Gobert to the Timberwolves for a treasure chest of picks and a cast of role players, fans were rightfully more excited about the picks. Four picks with minimal protections is a haul well worth drooling over, and the Jazz already flipped one of those conciliatory role players to the Lakers for Stanley Johnson and Talen Horton-Tucker.

Apparently, the Lakers want another recently acquired Jazzman, and want Jarred Vanderbilt in exchange for Russell Westbrook and presumably more picks. The only issue? The Jazz seem to think that Vanderbilt is worth more than the Lakers are willing to pay, which suggests that he will get some real, meaningful minutes this season.

Utah Jazz: Is Jarred Vanderbilt a key to future success?

What’s not to like? A 6’9” power forward, and former McDonald’s All-American, he slipped to the second round in the 2018 NBA Draft and has played for the Nuggets and Wolves. Last year, he started 67 games for the playoff-bound Wolves alongside Karl-Anthony Towns, Patrick Beverly, Anthony Edwards, and D’Angelo Russell. Because of the roster around him, he only posted 6.9 points, which is up from his career average of 5.4 points per game.

While he isn’t a star by any means, he has already established himself as a decent fourth or fifth option with the starting rotation and is only 23 years old, so he could still show some vast improvement. The Lakers want him as a cheap player to get some valuable bench minutes, but the Jazz see him as a piece to help solidify a young core around the star they will eventually find in the draft.

Vanderbilt is not a shooting threat by any means, but as a starter, he averaged well over eight rebounds and can defend multiple positions anywhere on the floor. The Jazz are in desperate need of defense, especially behind a depleted frontcourt.

The Lakers also want some additional defensive prowess. On top of that, Vanderbilt is already an above-average role player with elite physical gifts. His size and grace on the court suggest that he could soon be one of the most consistent starters in the league.

I don’t think that he will ever be an All-Star, but he is poised for a breakout year and could show the league that a power forward can play third fiddle to an elite backcourt. Every team needs some role players, and the Jazz found a great one before they even get their star.