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Vanderbilt remains biggest question mark on the roster

Jarred Vanderbilt’s game poses intriguing upside but requires intentional deployment for the best results which leaves a big question mark for the Utah Jazz

Portland Trail Blazers v Utah Jazz
Jarred Vanderbilt surveys the scene of the Jazz-Trail Blazers game at home
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

Jarred Vanderbilt is one of the more intriguing pieces the Jazz have at their disposal.

Not just on a night to night basis where he can single handedly manufacture havoc and disarray, but with a future view as the team looks to craft their next era of championship contention.

Jarred’s averaging 8.1 pts, 7.8 reb, 2.6 ast, 1.2 stl, and 1.5 tov per 50 possessions this year (akin to his 25 mpg but pace adjusted). A handful of these are career numbers. But the question still remains:

Who is Jarred Vanderbilt and what is he for a future, contending version of the Jazz?

Last week we ran through the roster members and commented on whether the Jazz know what they have with them. For Utah to make any moves, this understanding is of top priority.

Golden State Warriors v Utah Jazz
Jarred Vanderbilt hustles down court against the Golden State Warriors
Photo by Melissa Majchrzak/NBAE via Getty Images

The Jazz clearly know they’ve got something good, having been rumored as demanding a high price from interested teams. But there’s also uncertainty in how he fits given that he’s “available”.

This intuitively makes a lot of sense. Jarred’s talent and the value he provides is niche; his weaknesses preclude putting him in just situation.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Vando is a tenacious rebounder, ranking in the 70%tile or greater on both the offensive and defensive side of the glass for his position this season (per Cleaning the Glass). He’s posted similar marks throughout his career.

Jarred is a play finisher. He doesn’t generate his own offense and outside of second chance opportunities. 75% of his FGAs are made without a single dribble and he’s holding onto the ball fewer than 2 seconds 85% of the time. Neither metric is far off his career numbers.

He’s outstanding finishing around the hoop with an advantage and does so via dunks, tip ins, and layups.

He’s exploring his limits as a shooter from the right corner. He’s taken 33% more this season to date than he had is previous seasons combined and made 4x as many. He’s yet to force anyone to close out on him but he’s showing some strides there.

Utah Jazz v Golden State Warriors
Jarred Vanderbilt develops some proficiency from the right corner 3
Photo by Noah Graham/NBAE via Getty Images

Jarred is very foul prone at 4 fouls per 75 possessions. He’s improved of late but earlier this season saw him fouling out of multiple games. That’s a brutal recipe combined with Kelly Olynyk, the league’s personal foul leader.


This season has yielded interesting results as far as impact goes. When looking at the raw numbers, the Jazz are negative when he’s on the court (-3.8 per 100 poss) but not as negative when he sits (-5.7 per 100 poss).

Looking at the advanced metrics that measure impact and control for luck, teammates, etc., the picture puzzles even further. BPM has Vanderbilt as positive and RAPTOR reports Jarred as negative, and EPM at approximately even.

Vanderbilt causes chaos. That chaos can help or hurt the team. Learning when and how is what Jarred and Will Hardy are looking at this season and beyond.


An intriguing wrinkle that complicates Jarred’s future is that he’s played just two (2) possessions this season with Azubuike or Kessler. His inability to generate gravity makes it impossible to play with a traditional, non-shooting center.

Utah Jazz v Denver Nuggets
Rookie Walker Kessler gets a solid block on the two-time defending MVP Nikola Jokic
Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

This is nothing new. Vando only shared the floor with a non-shooting big for twenty (20) possessions the previous two seasons with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Walker Kessler is quickly demonstrating why he’s a long-term, value-add piece for the Jazz. Both players can be such but it complicates things when they can’t (as of yet) share the floor.


The great news is Utah has a lot of time to understand him better and feature him in the best ways for success. Jarred is currently on year 2 of a 3 year deal. He’s owned $4.3M this year and $4.6M next. They have until the 2025 offseason, when Vando is only 25 years old, to make sense of his future.

There’s zero hurry to trade Jarred Vanderbilt. He fits the timeline, is developing, and is on as great a contract as you can get. But he shouldn’t be the untouchable piece some have labeled him.

As Utah goes about trying to figure him out, things will shape into place and the team will slowly find answers. Once these answers come, the Jazz will likely be inclined to make wholesale changes to best compliment Vanderbilt and the others.