Wednesday, former Texas Tech basketball star Jarrett Culver got his first career start in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves.
It seems like Jarrett Culver is starting to find his footing in the NBA after a slow start to his rookie season. Wednesday night, the Lubbock native and arguably the best player in Texas Tech basketball history made his first career start in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves scoring 15 points, dishing out seven assists, and pulling down five rebounds a 137-121 loss at Memphis.
This quality showing was Culver’s second double-digit scoring output in the last three games. Two games prior, the No. 6 pick in this summer’s draft put up a career-high 20 points in a win over the Washington Wizards and on Monday had 8 points in 24 minutes off the bench in a loss at Milwaukee.
But don’t expect Culver to join the Timberwolves’ starting lineup on a permanent basis just yet. The 6-foot-6 combo guard was forced into the starting five because both of his team’s starting point guards were unavailable. Jeff Teague missed the game due to illness and Shabazz Napier was sidelined by a right hamstring strain forcing Culver and Andrew Wiggins, both considered shooting guards, to start in the backcourt and share the point guard duties.
While Wiggins was the team’s leading scorer with 30 points and star forward Karl-Anthony Townes added 25, Culver was a huge factor in a game that was close until the Grizzlies outscored the T-Wolves 36-25 in the fourth quarter. In fact, Townes spoke highly of his rookie teammate following the game.
“He’s a rookie, but he showed a lot of poise out there,” he said following the game. “As a team, it’s unfortunate we couldn’t let the light that was him tonight shine a little brighter because we didn’t play defensively the way we needed to.”
Offensively, Culver was not as efficient as he was in his 20-point game against Washington. He shot only 5-13 from the field, including 2-6 from 3-point range while only hitting half of his six free throws.
However, he was able to impact that game in other ways. He had a career-high seven assists, which was important to his team given the need for someone to step up at the point guard spot.
Our friend Ben Beecken at DunkingWithWolves.com gave Culver an “A” for his performance in his first career start. He points out that Culver had no turnovers in 30 minutes of action while managing to be the only player on the team with a positive plus-minus rating, which measures how many points a player’s team scores as compared to the opposition’s while that player is on the floor. For the night, Culver was a +4.
This season, the 2018-19 Big 12 Player of the Year is averaging 7.9 points, 2.6 rebounds, and 1.7 assists per game. But with an average of 14.3 points, 4.6 boards, and 3 assists in his last three games, there are signs that Culver is beginning to figure out how to excel in the NBA.