Jarrett Culver rose to prominence during his final season at Texas Tech, as the Red Raiders made a Final Four run. In a unique turn of fortune, since the 2019 Final Four was in Minneapolis, he landed with the Minnesota Timberwolves with the sixth overall pick in the 2019 draft.
Culver’s defense was tabbed to easily translate to the NBA, with work to do offensively. That came to fruition as a rookie, as he averaged 9.2 points per game and shot just shy of 30 percent from 3-point range over 63 games (35 starts).
Over time, albeit less than two seasons, Culver has slowly been pushed down the pecking order. The Timberwolves traded for D’Angelo Russell and Malik Beasley during last season. Then they drafted Anthony Edwards No. 1 overall this year.
Culver did not start or play more than 26-27 minutes in any of the last 14 games last season. He started seven straight games in the first 10 contests this season. But Edwards has emerged, and a left ankle injury has sidelined Culver for the last 13 games (and counting). He may be able to return next week, but to what kind of role? Consistency of playing time has been an issue for Culver, which surely hasn’t helped his development. His usage rate (18.2) and 3-point percentage (25.8 percent) are both down from last year so far this year.
Would the Wolves trade Jarret Culver?
In highlighting some young players who are ready for a trade at the deadline, here’s some of what Jonathan Wasserman of Bleacher Report wrote about Culver.
“Since the Minnesota Timberwolves drafted Jarrett Culver, the team added D’Angelo Russell, selected Anthony Edwards at No. 1, saw Malik Beasley develop into 20-point scorer and watched 2019 second-round pick Jaylen Nowell outproduce its lottery pick.”
The last bit might be the most damning on Culver. 2019 second-round pick Jaylen Nowell has played every game since Culver was injured, with double-figure points in the first eight (nine double-figure scoring outings overall in that span).
Russell is out 4-6 weeks after knee surgery this week. So perhaps Culver will find some minutes when he’s healthy. With the worst record in the league (7-22 entering Friday), the Timberwolves won’t hurt themselves by giving him some run.
If nothing else, the Timberwolves could showcase Culver a little to try to garner some trade interest before the deadline on March 25. If someone buys into his potential and a deal gets done, it’ll be interesting to see the return.