Comparing NBA stars to Kentucky basketball players: Jarred Vanderbilt

LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 24: Jarred Vanderbilt
LEXINGTON, KY - FEBRUARY 24: Jarred Vanderbilt /

The Kentucky basketball team will lose at least three, and possibly six players to the NBA Draft. It’s time for some NBA comparisons. Up next in the six-part series is Jarred Vanderbilt.

The Wildcats will lose at least three, and as many as six players to this year’s NBA Draft. Part of what NBA general managers and scouts do, is make comparisons of incoming players to those who are already part of an NBA team. This is Part Five of a six-part series comparing current NBA stars to the Kentucky basketball who’ve declared for the 2018 NBA Draft. Today we look at oft-injured freshman, Jarred Vanderbilt.

Throughout the 2017-18 season, Jarred Vanderbilt suffered through injuries. Vanderbilt played in just 14 games last season for the Cats. Vanderbilt showed the type of athletic ability that most NBA teams covet, when he was on the court. Big Blue Nation is going to love Vanderbilt’s NBA comparison, because his game emulates that of a former Wildcat. Jarred’s game is eerily similar to that of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist.

Kentucky fans will fondly remember Kidd-Gilchrist as the motor to UK’s 2012 NCAA Championship team. While Anthony Davis got the lions’ share of the credit for the Wildcats’ run to the championship, MKG was a huge part of Kentucky’s success that season. The Charlotte Bobcats drafted Kidd-Gilchrist No. 2 overall in the 2012 NBA Draft.

Both Vanderbilt and Kidd-Gilchrist bring intangibles to a team. No one worked harder during the 2011-12 season than Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. He was a workhorse on the interior for Coach Cal and the Wildcats. Vanderbilt has a similar motor, and was dominant on the offensive glass at times for UK this season.

Kidd-Gilchrist, just like Vanderbilt, struggles with his shot. This is especially true from downtown. During his 6-year NBA career, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has attempted a grand total of 36 three-point shots. Jarred Vanderbilt took one shot from distance during his 14 games with UK this past season. Big men that can shoot are essential in today’s game. That is something that Kidd-Gilchrist hasn’t figured out over six seasons, and it will hinder Vanderbilt’s value to NBA teams as well.

Due to injury concerns, it’s highly likely that Jarred Vanderbilt returns to UK for his sophomore season. MKG was selected No. 2 overall because of his work ethic, potential and production. Vanderbilt possesses a similar work ethic and potential, but NBA scouts will need to see production before they risk a first-round draft pick.