The Minnesota Timberwolves have selected Jarrett Culver with the No. 6 pick of the 2019 NBA draft. Minnesota acquired this pick earlier Thursday in a trade with the Phoenix Suns, sending the No. 11 pick and forward Dario Saric to Phoenix in return.
Culver took a monster sophomore jump that resulted in widespread NBA interest and Texas Tech's appearance in the national title game. Culver went from spot-up role player to lead scorer, a title he'll hope to earn at the next level as well.
Weight: 194.2 pounds
Pro comparison: Jimmy Butler
Culver made significant progress as a shot creator out of isolation and pick-and-roll situations. He converted three more two-point field goals per game than last year, demonstrating extra wiggle off the dribble and tougher pull-up scoring ability. Culver nearly doubled his assist rate as well, to 26.1 percent from 13.7 percent. He developed into a legitimate offensive initiator with enough shot-making skill to catch and shoot off the ball (49 threes), though fixing his jump shot mechanics could be an early point of emphasis for his coaching staff.
Perhaps a result of his slow release and slight hitch, Culver only shot 30.4 percent from three and 70.7 percent from the free-throw line. He went backward as a shooter this past season, a strange development after a promising freshman year. Athletically, Culver doesn't explode off the ground, adding more pressure on the 2-guard to improve his touch away from the basket.
Culver has the tools and mentality to be a plus NBA defender. He moves his feet well around the perimeter and uses his length to contest. He fares better against guards than against stronger wings who can play through him when attacking downhill. But overall, Culver's lateral quickness and defensive awareness are both strong enough to help him become a two-way player.
Whether Culver can clean up his shooting motion will factor into his rookie-year outlook, since he won't be called on to create offense in the same capacity. Regardless, we'll still see flashes of his two-point scoring off drives, post-ups and mid-range jumpers. He's bound to show off some of the playmaking ability he's added to his game as a secondary ball-handler, but he could be difficult to rely on for offense, particularly as a projected off-guard if his spot-up three ball isn't falling. He may be a safer bet to crack the All-Rookie Second Team than First Team.
Projected role: Quality starter
Without lethal three-point shooting or explosive athleticism, Culver's ceiling may fall below All-Star level. He still has the tools and skill set to become a valued starter like Caris LeVert, a versatile wing who scores and passes. The perception among scouts is that Culver comes off as a safe prospect with a high floor.