In the final minutes of a 132-95 victory for the Denver Nuggets over the Phoenix Suns, former Kentucky Wildcats big man Jarred Vanderbilt made his NBA debut.
Denver ensured Vanderbilt as much time as he needed to heal from prior injuries when they drafted him in the second round of the NBA Draft last year.
The Nuggets are an exceptional team with a tightly-bonded group of players. Characters like former Cats Jamal Murray and Trey Lyles and MVP candidate Nikola Jokic set a standard of support for one another. So when Vanderbilt stepped to the free throw line to score his first NBA point, his teammates provided the purest of reactions.
Established NBA stars in Gary Harris, Paul Millsap and Isaiah Thomas and team leaders in Will Barton and Malik Beasley all had the biggest of smiles on their faces as the free throw went in.
The first point of Jarred Vanderbilt's NBA career and look how happy his teammates are for him. pic.twitter.com/vO3Zy9YC5E— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 26, 2019
Those who have surely seen the work Vanderbilt has put in and the patience it took, through a long year of injury, for him to get to that moment. They doused him in water after the game was over and Nuggets head coach Michael Malone even chimed in with praise in the post game presser. Vanderbilt has found himself a good home in the Mile High city.
Jarred Vanderbilt gets doused with water after his NBA debut. So happy for him. Bright future. pic.twitter.com/oIkvttElvW— Scott Charlton (@Scott_Charlton) January 26, 2019
His one point wasn’t the only highlight of Vanderbilt’s NBA debut however. He had a beautiful bounce-pass assist that really captivates what Vanderbilt can do as an NBA player. He also had three rebounds in his four minutes of play, which is absolutely fitting as well.
The next step for Vanderbilt will be in the G-League where Denver hopes he can get into playing shape in the coming weeks.