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How Vanderbilt and McLaughlin Fit Into the Timberwolves Rotation

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Where do the newly re-signed players fit into next season’s rotation? Let’s discuss.

Boston Celtics v Minnesota Timberwolves Photo by David Sherman/NBAE via Getty Images

Late last week, the Minnesota Timberwolves announced that they had re-signed both Jordan McLaughlin and Jarred Vanderbilt to multi-year deals.

Both of these players took longer than anticipated to get signed back to the Wolves but now that they’re here, how do they fit? Vanderbilt could be taking a step up with his role while McLaughlin might be taking a step back.

Jordan McLaughlin

When the offseason began, the Timberwolves were apparently interested in giving McLaughlin a real chance at the backup point guard role. JMac has now played 81 NBA games in his two year career and averaged just 18.9 minutes per game, so taking on the backup PG role would’ve been a big increase in minutes. This was of course until the team saw an opportunity to trade two negative assets in Culver and Hernangomez for point guard Patrick Beverley.

Despite trading for Beverley, the Wolves still decided to bring back McLaughlin as the third point guard/backup point guard in case of injury. Locking him up for more than one year basically ensures that the Wolves will have their point guard position set next season for barely over $30 million combined between D’Angelo Russell and Jordan McLaughlin.

Enough about next year, what will McLaughlin be doing this year? Well, imagine his role the past couple years and then just put that as his 2021-22 role. He’ll play 19-20 minutes per night on average when the season wraps up. There will be some games where he literally plays zero minutes and some games he plays 23-25 minutes. His role will fluctuate through the season depending on matchups, fatigue, injury, and more. For a third point guard, JMac is above average and you know what they say. Having an above average third point guard is almost as cool as making the playoffs! Almost.

Jarred Vanderbilt

I’m more excited about Jarred Vanderbilt than I am about anything else in my life. I eat, sleep, and breathe Vando. If I was granted one wish it would be to create a cereal called “Vand-O’s” so I could literally eat Vando. I’m gonna need our guy JakesGraphs on Twitter to make a shirt for that.

Anyways, I’m very excited for Jarred Vanderbilt and here’s why:

He can play defense and he can do it very well. While watching him play last season, I didn’t pick up on it too much but the statistics are absolutely in love with him. Using the website DunksAndThrees.com which does a good job of taking something and placing a value on a scale from 1-100 on it, Vando is an elite defender. Here’s a chart I created in my free time like some degenerate taking the Wolves roster and plugging in the numbers from the site.

I hope those numbers make sense. I spent a good couple hours doing that. My point is that Jarred Vanderbilt (highlighted in yellow) is in the 98th percentile for defense and the 81st percentile overall. This site also hates McDaniels and Edwards but ignore that for now. Even if Vanderbilt is being overrated by 31 points overall, the Wolves just locked up a league average player for extremely cheap.

With the way this current roster is set up, I think Vando needs to start. We all know D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards, and Karl-Anthony Towns will be in the starting lineup so who takes the other spots? I like McDaniels at the three and Vanderbilt at the four. This would mean Malik Beasley is coming off the bench, something he could really excel at. This would also mean Vanderbilt is increasing from 17.8 minutes per game to around 25.0 as the starter. That’s a fairly significant jump for a guy who already made a huge jump last season.

If Vando isn’t starting then the Wolves either replace him with Taurean Prince or move McDaniels to the four and put Beasley in the starting lineup. Neither of those two things are very appealing but I understand the argument against starting Vando.

If only there was a 6’11” elite defender located in Philadelphia for the Wolves to trade for...