Draft Lead

Can Jarrett Culver Solidify Himself as a Top Pick?

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20 months ago, Jarrett Culver was a 2-star prospect just hoping to garner some meaningful playing time at the Division I level. A future in the NBA was a pipe dream for the wiry, 170-pound hometown kid.

But nearly two years later, that scrawny kid from Lubbock is playing for an NCAA title and a chance to be propelled into the conversation of top tier draft picks, among the likes of Zion, R.J. Barrett, and Ja Morant.

Culver’s transformation is evident in every aspect of his game. His offensive arsenal is almost limitless– he can slash, pull up, hit the fadeaway, all with extraordinary body control and fluidity. But the most under-emphasized element of Culver’s game (that scouts expect to translate flawlessly to the next level) is his passing ability. Culver’s tight handle and composed presence allow him to find the open man even in heavily congested areas of the floor, allowing teammates to move off-ball more effectively.

 

These skills are going to be put to the ultimate test tonight in Minneapolis. A game on the biggest stage against one of the nation’s most suffocating defenses is the quintessential benchmark for NBA talent evaluation.

Scouts will be following Culver’s every move, hyper-evaluating his perceived lack of separation and explosion offensively. De’Andre Hunter and Ty Jerome, the defensive equivalences of ankle-biter chihuahuas, are going to give Culver his toughest test of the season. While Virginia could potentially exploit Culver’s general lack of elite quickness and slow release, his lengthy and effective strides should allow him to get to his spots and capitalize on what he has excelled at all year: decisive playmaking.

Subpar Shot From Downtown?

His outside shot hasn’t been anything to rave about this season (he’s shooting just 31.6% from 3 on the season), but lucky for Culver, scouts tend to have a short memory. Last year, Donte DiVincenzo had a roller-coaster shooting season shooting the ball for Villanova, but a herculean, 31-point effort in the title game cemented Donte as a mid first rounder. Culver’s shot mechanics are smooth, and if he can heat up on pull-ups and from behind the arc tonight, his stock can only trend upwards.

At just 20 years old, Jarrett Culver has all the tools necessary to be profiled as a high lottery pick. The shot-making. The attacking. The passing. The defense. He’s a low-risk, high upside pick for any team in the lottery looking to add a lethal playmaker who has the ceiling of a franchise cornerstone. And while at the end of the day this is only one game, perhaps no other game in Culver’s collegiate career can move his draft needle like the one tonight.

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About Logan Collien

From Madison, WI Twitter: @lcollien

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