After completing his first season with the Minnesota Timberwolves, Jarrett Culver needs to improve on one specific thing.
The Minnesota Timberwolves selected Jarrett Culver with the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft.
To pick Culver, they had to move up from the No. 11 spot by trading away Dario Saric. The plan was cleary to either select Darius Garland or Culver. Once the Cleveland Cavaliers picked Garland, Minnesota grabbed Texas Tech’s Culver.
Culver’s rookie season was absolutely an up-and-down campaign. As a high lottery pick coming off of an appearance in the NCAA championship game — played in Minneapolis, no less — expectations were understandably high, especially after he performed well in the preseason.
Coming out of college, the expectations were that he would be able to become a two-way player. Indeed, the defense after one year in the NBA was, for the most part, good for a rookie. There were times where he struggled, but that’s expected for a first-year player. As he plays more minutes and understands the opposing player’s tendencies, this should only get better.
Minnesota Timberwolves: One thing Jarrett Culver should focus on this offseason
In addition to mostly solid defense, Culver averaged 9.2 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.7 assists, 0.9 steals and 0.6 blocks per game. Of course, there are multiple things that he should be working on this offseason, but the major emphasis should be his shooting efficiency.
During his rookie season, Culver shot just 40.4 percent from the field and 29.9 percent from 3-point range and an abysmal 46.2 percent from the free throw line. To be fair, Culver did improve his shooting splits towards the end of the season, but the damage had been done.
In six games during the month of March, Culver was shooting 52.9 percent from the field and 42.1 percent from three. His free throw percentage still lacked, but he was looking a lot better shooting from the field, in part buoyed by more successful trips to the rim both in transition and in the half-court.
Luckily, Minnesota didn’t have too many issues scoring the ball, but having another weapon moving forward will only make the team stronger. For a player who was drafted with the No. 6 pick, shooting around 40 percent from the field is not going to cut it, and the Wolves can’t afford to have a non-threat standing outside the arc.
The free throw shooting is the most alarming part of Culver’s game. His best month shooting the ball from the charity stripe was January, where he raised it to 53.6 percent. In his final season at Texas Tech, he shot 70.7 percent from the line, and for his collegiate career, he hit on 68.7 percent over two seasons.
It’s not a great sign, but seeing him drop more than 20 percent in the pro ranks was rather odd and certainly unexpected.
Culver does have an awkward release point on his shot. There are some unfortunate shades of Markelle Fultz’s shot when he was attempting to come back from his shoulder injury.
Thankfully, there is already evidence of Culver doing everything he can to continually approve his shot.
There are other things he could do this offseason to improve, like working on how to play without the ball in his hands or getting better defensively, but after just one season, it’s smart to just emphasize one key area that he should be focusing on.
On a positive note, Culver didn’t shy away from dunking on players.
Here’s hoping for more of that version of JC23 in 2020-21 and beyond…plus a better shooting line. But beggars can’t be choosers, right?