Jarrett Culver, who led the Texas Tech Red Raiders to the NCAA Championship game this year, has prototypical size for a shooting guard and an all-around game to match. The sophomore was a Consensus All-American selection, and was named Big 12 Player of the Year. He finished in the top ten in conference in numerous categories, including field-goal percentage (46.1), points per game (18.5), rebounds per game (6.4), assists per game (3.7), steals per game (1.5), player efficiency rating (24.1), defensive rating (86.0), win shares (7.1), and plus-minus (11.2).
Culver is a multi-level threat on offense, but he gets the majority of his baskets in and around the paint, scoring regularly on cuts to the basket and drives from various types of plays. He won’t dazzle you with his dribble, but he has a reliable handle and can effectively go in either direction. He loves to use spin moves in the lane, and can efficiently finish with either hand. At the rim, he absorbs contact extremely well, and has underrated vertical explosiveness (he posted a 45-inch max vertical during a recent pre-draft workout with the Lakers). Additionally, Culver is very effective in the post, playing with physicality and capable of shooting fade-ways by turning with either shoulder.
Culver is effective with the ball in his hands, making plays as a shooter, driver and passer, with and without the aid of picks. His size was a distinct advantage at the college level, allowing him to shoot and pass over smaller guards in tight spaces. He was at his best in isolation this past season, but he also fared very well as a handler in the pick and roll, as a spot-up player, as a shooter off screens, and in transition. In terms of points per possession (PPP), he ranked the highest when including passes in ISO (83rd percentile), but in all of the areas mentioned, he ranked no worse than the 58th percentile (as a spot-up scorer).
The main area where Culver did not shine this past season was as a jump shooter, especially from deep. He made just 30.4 percent of his 3-point attempts this season, and as an overall jump shooter, he ranked at the 37th percentile for PPP. He actually was at his worst when catching and shooting, ranking at the 34th percentile.
Culver’s shot mechanics are a work in progress. He has improved his technique since his freshman season – his shot is now more compact, and he no longer brings the ball over his head before shooting. However, he still dips the ball at the start of his shot, and his release is a bit slow.
Part of Culver’s inefficiency as a shooter was also likely due being the clear-cut first option on a team that lacked a great deal of offensive talent, and as a result, he received a lot of attention from opposing defenses and had to take a lot of difficult shots. He tied for 49th in Division I for most jumpers off the bounce this past season, and he did reasonably well in terms of PPP, ranking at the 50th percentile. Not having the most explosive handle, he couldn’t always create a lot of space, but he could compensate with his elevation and his height.
As a defender, few were better than Culver over the past two years at the collegiate level. This past season, he ranked at the 93rd percentile for fewest points allowed per possession. With a terrific combination of athleticism, strength, and length, he is capable of guarding point guards, wings, and power forwards. He plays with great awareness and effort, and is an exceptional team defender. He is an aggressive on-ball defender, too, featuring good reaction time and lateral movement. He also plays with physicality, capable of holding his own in the paint, and he battles for defensive boards.
In sum, Culver may not be the most dynamic player, but he doesn’t have many flaws, and one could make an argument for him to go as high as the third overall pick in this draft. He’s a better defender than both R. J. Barrett and Ja Morant, and he certainly has a size advantage over the latter as well, but Morant is far more explosive. Athletically and size wise, Culver is on par with Barrett, and both have shooting issues from deep. Ultimately, what will likely separate the two is Barrett’s ability to create off the bounce, his age, and his perceived upside. It’s difficult to imagine Culver slipping any lower than the ninth overall pick, and I expected him to eventually be a very good player, possibly an All-Star, in the years to come. The will key for him will be to develop a consistent outside shot.
|Position:||SG||Team/Class:||Texas Tech (So.)|
|Wingspan:||6-10||Vertical:||45 inches (max)|
|Shot Hand:||Right||Stats:||Click here|
- Excellent scorer in and around the paint; made 55.2 percent of his shots within 15 feet this season
- Can create his own shot; ranked at the 77th percentile for points per possession (PPP) in isolation this season
- Effective driving and finishing with either hand
- An all-around scorer, capable from the post to the 3-point line; ranked at the 66th percentile overall for PPP this season
- Solid playmaker with nice vision, and capable of running the point; including passes, ranked at the 67th percentile for PPP as a pick-and-roll handler
- Can shoot off the dribble; ranked 49th in Division I for most jumpers taken off the dribble, and ranked at the 50th percentile for PPP on those shots
- Top-ranked defender for two straight years; ranked at the 93rd percentile for fewest points allowed per possession this season, and also ranked in the top-10 in the nation for both defensive win shares and defensive rating
- Shot mechanics are a work in progress; especially poor on the catch-and-shoot, ranking at the 34th percentile for PPP this season
- Made just 34.1 percent of his 3-point attempts over his two-year career at Texas Tech
- Below-average free-shooter with a career percentage of 68.7
- Not especially nifty or explosive off the bounce, and could struggle to find space at next level, where his height won’t be so much of an advantage
- Very modest shot-blocking numbers for his size (.55 per game this season)
Sources, Credits, and Acknowledgements: Stats used in our scouting reports mainly come from Synergy Sports Technology and RealGM.com, and occasionally from Hoop-Math.com and Sports-Reference.com. The photo was courtesy of Texas Tech Athletics. Other outside sources are noted with links to the source.