Jarrett Culver helped Texas Tech reach the national championship game in 2019.

By Michael Shapiro
June 20, 2019

The Minnesota Timberwolves have acquired Texas Tech guard Jarrett Culver with the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NBA draft.

The Timberwolves traded for the pick, which originally belonged to the Phoenix Suns, earlier on draft night in exchange for the No. 11 pick and Dario Saric, according to multiple reports.

Culver carried Texas Tech to the national championship game in April, though the Red Raiders lost to Virginia in overtime. The 6'5" guard earned a slate of accolades as a sophomore in 2018-19, winning the Big 12 Player of the Year award as well as earning consensus All-American honors. A Lubbock, Texas native, Culver came to Chris Beard's program as a three-star recruit. But despite an unheralded arrival to the NCAA, Culver remained one of college basketball's top talents last season.

Culver averaged 18.5 points and 6.4 rebounds per game for the Red Raiders as a sophomore. He shot 52.6% from the field in 2018-19 but actually regressed from three, making just 30.4% of triples after shooting at a 38.2% clip as a freshman. But Culver was still an accomplished scorer at the college level.He poured in 26 against Kansas​ in February and 31 in a win at Iowa State one month later. He helped anchor the nation's No. 3 scoring defense and led Texas Tech to its first Final Four in school history. Culver exits Lubbock as arguably the best player in program history, and now he'll look to elevate his game at the next level. 

SI draft expert Jeremy Woo’s breakdown: Culver noticeably took his lumps over the course of the NCAA tournament, but there’s still a lot to like. In a better draft, Culver wouldn’t be flirting with a top-five selection, and this spot on the board is a tick higher than general consensus. There’s an intuitive yet unflashy quality to his game on both sides of the ball that’s extremely appealing, and his size and developing handle profile nicely as an off-guard and secondary playmaker. He’s an instinctive finisher, plays an unselfish style, and should be able to fit in with a variety of lineups and systems. There are two key areas of improvement for Culver going forward, one being his jump shooting off the dribble, which is not quite natural yet. As a set shooter, it’s easy enough to buy his future improvement, but he’s not dynamic with it on the move. The second issue is a lack of elite athleticism, which was exposed against better defenders at times, and he may have to compensate by working diligently on his change of speed off the bounce. Still, when you factor in how much Culver was asked to do this season, how successful he was, and how much responsibility he assumed in a short span of time, it’s encouraging. There are few bad habits here, and while he may not be a star, he offers more untapped ability than he gets credit for.

Woo's Grade: A

This is strong value for Minnesota at No. 6, landing a player who you can argue for as the third-best prospect in the draft. Culver has made major strides, plays hard on both ends and should be a positive contributor for the Wolves. He’s a relatively safe choice for them, but also fits nicely with what they have on the roster, and comes with an appealing floor and ceiling. The Wolves maneuvered effectively to this spot and made a strong decision.

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