The Minnesota Timberwolves are considered to be one of the biggest winners of the recently-concluded draft, and this is in most part due to their acquisition of Texas Tech sophomore shooting guard Jarrett Culver. This did not come cheap for the Wolves, as they had to part ways with their No. 11 pick as well as 6-foot-10 forward Dario Saric in order to acquire the No. 6 pick from the Phoenix Suns.
Minnesota obviously had a game plan, and they executed it to perfection. Once they realized that Culver would be available at the sixth spot, they pulled the trigger on the deal. As a result, they got their man, and it now looks like they’re going to be a much better side next season with Culver in the mix.
So what does the upcoming season hold for this highly-touted prospect? Well, on the onset, we believe that he will be a pivotal piece for the Timberwolves moving forward. Below, we’ve identified three predictions on how the 2019-20 season should pan out for Culver.
A Defensive Asset
Many consider Culver to be one of the most outstanding defenders in his class. As a sophomore for Texas Tech last season, the 6-foot-5 guard averaged 1.5 steals and 0.6 blocks per contest, along with 18.5 points (on 46.1 percent shooting), 1.3 three-pointers, 6.4 rebounds, and 3.7 assists in 32.5 minutes.
The Wolves do not need him to score at a very high rate next season, as they already have a lot of firepower in both their starting lineup and their second unit. This should allow Culver to focus on what he does best — defense.
Minnesota’s defensive issues from the wing were badly exposed last season, especially after Robert Covington went down with a season-ending injury. This was the team’s biggest need entering the draft, and we believe Culver will jump straight in to fill this void immediately.
Emerging from the Logjam
While Culver is definitely a tremendous pickup for the Wolves, the addition of another shooting guard causes a bit of a logjam for the team. At the moment, they already have Andrew Wiggins, Josh Okogie, and Covington in the mix at the two and three spots, so this might provide a bit of a headache for newly-hired head coach Ryan Saunders.
However, we believe that Culver has both the tools and the potential to emerge from this logjam as the team’s starting two guard. It might not come at the onset of the season, but we feel that as the games pile up, Culver should be able to prove his worth for the team, and force coach Saunders to eventually hand him a starting spot.
Interestingly, there have been some rumors questioning Wiggins’ long-term future with the Wolves. The former first overall pick has been heavily criticized of late, and there are some who believe that it is time for Minnesota to move on from 23-year-old.
The thing is, Wiggins just signed a five-year max deal with the team last season, so the front office will need to be very creative in order to succeed in offloading the former Rookie of the Year’s massive deal. However, if Minnesota are somehow able to pull this off this summer, then this virtually gives Culver a clear path to a starting gig sooner rather than later.
A Jack of All Trades
While Culver’s defense is what makes him stand out as one of the most promising rookies in his class, he is actually also quite adept in the other areas of the game. As a matter of fact, he is widely considered to be one of, if not the most versatile prospect from the draft that is not named Zion Williamson.
Culver is not the best scorer nor is he the most athletic, but what makes him special is the fact that he does everything quite well. He rebounds impressively from his position, and he has also proven that he can be quite an effective playmaker from the two spot. Many believe that the potential is there for Culver, but we think he is set to surprise the basketball world with how quickly he develops in his debut season.
At the end of the day, the Timberwolves scooped up an absolute asset in Culver. He is exactly the type of piece they need right now, and it leaves very little doubt that Minnesota will be a better team with him on board. The Wolves will likely still struggle to secure a playoffs spot next season, but the addition of Culver is definitely a step towards the right direction for the organization.