You can smell it, you can taste it, you can damn near touch it. It’s the NBA season creeping back into your lives and blessing you with it’s sweet presence. That means, as we gear up for what should be an entertaining season in the Twin Cities, the Canis Hoopus Player Previews are back in full swing.
Today, we focus on Jarrett Culver, whose potential to become one of the Timberwolves’ franchise pillars should be one of the most interesting storylines to follow this season. The 20-year-old was the sixth selection in this year’s draft, after new president of basketball operations Gersson Rosas and his front office colleagues cashed in on Dario Saric and Minnesota’s original 11th pick.
With a polished yet quickly improving game, Culver vaulted himself into the top tier of prospects in his second and final season at Texas Tech. He led the Red Raiders to the championship game, putting up an impressive 18.5 points, 6.4 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.5 steals per game over the course of the campaign. Not bad for a kid who has ranked 312th nationally coming out of high school.
Now with the Wolves, a squad with a bevy of wings at their disposal and sights on an unlikely playoff push, Culver will have to prove his worth again. Even if he does have the added luxury of being the first player Rosas has directly chosen, there is no guarentee he slots into the starting unit. He will be battling fan favorite Josh Okogie, newcomers Jake Layman and Treveon Graham, and even jostling with the polarizing Andrew Wiggins for a spot in the rotation.
If Ryan Saunders’ early impressions are anything to go by, Culver is bringing that underdog mentality to training camp already.
“He’s definitely made some plays that make you look around & say wow.” Saunders told Wolves Radio announcer Alan Horton. “Now those might be normal plays for someone who’s been in the league, but for a rookie in his first couple of days, it was impressive.”
Measuring in at a tick under 6-foot-7 in his hooping shoes, the newest Minnesota lottery pick has excellent size and agility for someone able to play the shooting guard or small forward position. He is a silky mover with ball in hand, one that’s capable of initiating offense or letting it come to him. He moves direct and smartly without the ball, with a knack for finishing through and around rim-protectors with guile and guts.
Fans will surely fall in love with his passing, slashing, and driving ability, but they might be worried about his ability to shoot from the outside.