Minnesota Timberwolves: 3 Wolves players with the most to play for

MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - FEBRUARY 26: D'Angelo Russell #0 of the Minnesota Timberwolves celebrates with teammates. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /
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Minnesota Timberwolves, Jarrett Culver
Donovan Mitchell of the Utah Jazz drives against Jarrett Culver of the Minnesota Timberwolves. (Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images) /

3 Minnesota Timberwolves players with the most to play for: Jarrett Culver

Nearly two seasons into his career, Jarrett Culver has unfortunately failed to live up to expectations in Minnesota.

The former No. 6 pick in the 2019 NBA Draft has not justified the front office’s decision to trade up from No. 11 to select him. In defense of Culver, the team’s environment has been characterized by chaos during the entirety of his NBA tenure, which hasn’t been necessarily conducive to player development.

With that said, the improvement of Anthony Edwards, Jaylen Nowell, Jaden McDaniels and Reid has been apparent over the same time period, so we’ve seen that player development is indeed possible in this environment.

Culver’s rookie year showed signs of defensive promise with the ability to improve on offense, and after a promising start to the 2020-2021 preseason, many Wolves fans were encouraged with the idea of an improved Jarrett Culver.

Today, however, it is clear that Jarrett Culver has hit a wall in his development. He has seemingly lost confidence in both his offensive and defensive skills. Culver is still a career 50 percent free throw shooter and 29 percent 3-point shooter, which includes 25.5 percent from long-range this season.

Culver’s defensive rating sits at 114.3, which is only slightly superior to the Wolves No. 27-ranked team defensive rating of 114.8. He has nearly played his way out of the Wolves already-thin rotation, and many of his stints under Chris Finch have been cut short due to insufficient offensive and defensive performances.

Culver’s stock has plummeted since entering the NBA. His future is already uncertain in Minnesota, and his value around the league will fall with every game he underperforms in.

As it currently sits, Culver is on a lottery pick contract that earns him $6.4 million next season, which is effectively a negative contract. The longer he plays poorly or doesn’t play at all, the less likely another NBA team will be willing to trade to take a chance on him.

With that said, Culver can increase his stock the remainder of the season by playing well. Similar to Hernangomez, Culver can play well to prove his worthiness to the Wolves, or he can play well to increase his stock to make him more tradable this offseason, giving him a new situation that would allow him better develop.

Again, the market is unlikely to favor players that struggle to crack Timberwolves rotation, so if Culver doesn’t play well, he may find himself struggling for minutes in the NBA, regardless of the team he is on.

Next. 3 rim protectors for Wolves to target. dark

With the playoffs out of reach this season, Wolves fans may not have much to cheer for beyond keeping their top-three protected 2021 draft pick. However, there are players who still have a lot to play for, and it will be especially interesting to see if these players can make the most out of the rest of this lost season.