HOUSTON – On Friday at Oklahoma City, Jarred Vanderbilt grabbed 16 rebounds, which tied a career high he set last month against the Lakers. It was a nice night for Vanderbilt, but it left him wanting more.
"Been trying to get 20 all year," Vanderbilt said. "Keep coming a little short, but it's all good."
On Sunday, Vanderbilt came oh so close. He had a career-high 21 points and 19 rebounds in front of family and friends in his hometown of Houston as the Timberwolves won 141-123.
"I realized I was at like 18, and I heard the bench kept yelling at me to get two more," Vanderbilt said. "So I was fighting trying to get the last two."
If he keeps playing with the kind of frenetic energy that has earned him a starting spot, he will have more chances to get there. But Vanderbilt has made his name on more than just hustle. His understanding of the Wolves' defensive scheme has helped him become one of the Wolves' most reliable defenders.
When he rebounds, he is trying to figure out where the ball is going to go based off where the shot was taken and where it's most likely to land. That is more than just effort.
Vanderbilt has helped the Wolves become one of the best offensive rebounding teams in the league. They rank fourth by grabbing 30.1% of all available offensive rebounds per game. They score 15.7 second-chance points per game, third in the league, and that's helped in part because of Vanderbilt's 3.1 offensive boards per game. That number also doesn't take into account the times Vanderbilt has drawn fouls trying to get offensive boards or the times a ball has gone out off an opponent because he influenced the rebound attempt.
Vanderbilt has said before he goes up for an offensive rebound, he tries to scan what's happening around him and where the defense is. So should he get the rebound he has a feel for what to do afterward — go back up with it or try to kick the ball out to an open teammate. It's a line Vanderbilt has been walking better of late. Last season, he would mostly look to just go back up with mixed results. Now he is more conscientious of looking for open teammates.
"I just try to read what the crowd looks like," Vanderbilt said. "If I catch it in traffic and I know it's a lot of guys, I try to look for people to kick out. If it's three guys and me, somebody is open, but if I have a little guy on me, I look to go back up."
The Wolves fan to the corners on those opportunities because some of the most-efficient offensive opportunities come off open threes on offensive rebound opportunities.
Vanderbilt joked his teammates only have a finite number of chances he will kick it back out to them.
"If they don't make it then I'm just going up," Vanderbilt joked. "I'll give them a couple opportunities to get going."
His teammates appreciate the effort.
"He cold ..." guard Anthony Edwards said. "Yeah. He cold. He definitely cold."
- Patrick Beverley missed his second consecutive game because of right groin soreness. The injury is considered day-to-day and Beverley is on the Wolves' road trip.
- Before the game, coach Chris Finch was asked if a season ago he thought Edwards' average of 8.7 three-point attempts would be good or bad. "Uh, bad," Finch said with a smile. He acknowledged Edwards has improved in that department. "What he's doing a great job of is he's super committed to the shots he's taking," Finch said. "I think at times he's maybe been unsure, didn't like step into the shot."