The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Texas Tech’s Jarrett Culver with the No. 6 pick in June’s draft, and he’s already had an exciting and productive rookie season.
Despite a relatively slow start to the season, it’s safe to say that, at roughly the halfway mark in the season, Minnesota Timberwolves rookie Jarrett Culver has thrived in Ryan Saunders system on both ends of the floor.
To this point, Culver is averaging 9.9 points, 3.7 rebounds, two assists and one steal per game.
Sure, Culver is not the flashiest rookie in this year’s draft class — at least not yet. However, his poise around the rim and the ability to create space off the dribble make him a dangerous ball-handler and, suddenly, a true scoring option for the Timberwolves.
Over the last 11 games, Culver has increased his scoring output. It’s partially due to the absence of Karl-Anthony Towns, but that also isn’t necessarily the primary reason why Culver’s averaging 15.9 points and 5.3 rebounds per game.
During that timeframe, Jarrett has been a primary ball hander for the Timberwolves, displaying his ability to breakdown one-on-one matchups and drive to the basket. His 3-point shooting is a work in progress and it is the next step for Culver to reach his full potential in the NBA, although his 32.1 percent mark from deep over the last 11 games is certainly a notch above his 26.9 percent mark for the season.
On the defensive side of the ball, Jarrett’s athleticism and awareness make him a good matchup against most guards in the NBA. Saunders emphasizes maximum effort to get around screens and Culver does exactly that. His effort produces deflections and steals which have contributed to Minnesota’s above-average defensive efficiency for much of the season.
Culver has consistently been an X-factor for the Wolves and has displayed his potential as an effective scorer. A common struggle for NBA rookies is acclimating to the pace of play in the NBA, yet Culver has done this gracefully and it is a big reason why Saunders wants him on the floor in crucial moments.
Overall, Culver’s rookie campaign has been impressive thus far and his role for the Timberwolves will likely increase as the season goes on. If he can expand his range beyond the 3-point line, he will be even more dangerous offensively.
Being taken sixth-overall comes with a lot of pressure and expectations. And so far, Culver is living up to the hype and his future in Minnesota is bright.