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2019 NBA Draft: Jarrett Culver could be Detroit’s answer on the wing

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The rising sophomore can do a little bit of everything

Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

Jarrett Culver is a sophomore wing player at Texas Tech, which is currently ranked in the top-15. If Culver decides to leave school early, which it seems extremely likely that he will, he’s slated to go in the top-15 of the draft. Nbadraft.net has Culver going 12th to Minnesota right now, while Tankathon.com and Sam Vecenie of The Athletic have him going fifth, to the Hawks in their respective mock drafts.

Sitting here on January 31st, Detroit sure seems like a lottery team (and maybe one that slips into having a top-10 pick). If you see Detroit actually reaching .500 and getting that eighth seed, you’re a much more happy and optimistic person than most Pistons fans. I want what you’re having, so please hook me up?

When that doesn’t happen, though, next season the Pistons are going to be in need of wing players that can walk and chew gum at the same time, and Culver can provide that and more.

Size

I’ve seen Culver listed from 6-foot-5 to 6-foot-8. That’s strange. An inch or so of height uncertainty is normal. But four inches? The thing I’m reading from several sources is that Culver is still growing — not exactly surprising as he’s just shy of 20-years-old. An article from Ben Rubin at The Stepien looks more at it:

There aren’t really many guys who just flame out with Culver’s array of offensive skills, because there just aren’t many guys with Culver’s array of skills. It’s an okay package at 6-foot-5, like getting clothes for your birthday as a child. It’s a pretty interesting package at 6-foot-7 or 6-foot-8, definitely better than getting a free lollipop when your mom made a deposit at the bank. A guy I likely won’t be able to imagine not in the lottery. But at 6-foot-10, we’re talking about something else. A potential face of the league type player.

Now I have no clue just how big Culver is right now. It’s only an educated guess, and I’m only 80-85 percent sure he’s taller this year than he was last. But if I’m right, there’s a legitimate chance we are mis-evaluating Culver, because there’s a legitimate chance he ends up the size of a big wing or a power player, and five years from now his only connection to the guard position will be his skill level and the likelihood that he can defend those player’s too.

Three-point shooting

Culver is shooting fewer threes this season and shooting them less efficiently, as his percentage has dropped more than three percent. He’s at 35 percent currently, but is shooting over 50 percent from the field overall.

By the eye test, though, his three-point stroke looks excellent. Culver seems aware of his length and there being no reason to rush. Some say his outside shot takes forever (and they’re right) but I’m not sure it’s such a negative thing at this point. In spot up shooting situations, his ability to quicken his shot release will be something he’ll need to improve.

Culver is versatile enough of a scorer and ball handler that teams will always respect that catch-and-shoot ability, leaving him some extra room on the perimeter. These three clips show Culver’s consistent form and follow-through on his treys — but, you’re right, it’s only one game:

Versatility and playmaking ability

Culver’s Texas Tech squad isn’t a strong offensive team. They get by on methodical offense and sound defense. They depend on Culver for a lot, so it’s not surprising that he leads them in points (18.5), rebounds (6.9), and assists (3.9), if we’re just looking at the traditional stats.

With this play, Jarrett shows some finesse but also strength and attack-mode aggression:

Culver is often tasked with making a play out of a wrecked set, and when the floor clears out, it’s a simple two-on-two game which Culver handles easily:

This play will present itself much more frequently in the NBA than the one before: Way out on the perimeter, Culver lulls the WVU defender into stillness just long enough to get to his spot:

NBA Comparison

Best case? Jimmy Butler. Culver’s frame will get wider and stronger, and if he ends up being about 6-foot-8, there’s many similarities there physically with Jimmy. There are footwork subtleties and high IQ tendencies that I see in Culver that Jimmy certainly has. And heck, I think they are both serious about their craft and are both late bloomers.

A more realistic projection of Culver could be a Taurean Prince-like player. Taurean is not much of a creator for others as Culver could be in the NBA, but he does have a respectable outside shot and the ability to create his own opportunities.

Just a couple more clips

What I’ve learned about Culver is his patience in how he goes about getting his own offense and his crisp perimeter footwork:

Excuse the lack of defense in this clip, but definitely be aware of Culver’s strong lefty skills:

*****

June, and NBA Draft time, will be here before you know it. Let us know what you think about Jarrett Culver and other prospects in the comments below.