Jarrett Culver: On-Ball Offense
Our scouting grades represent the composite opinion of at least three different scouts. Each category is graded based on how we view a player’s current ability level relative to NBA players at the same position (guard, wing, forward or big). A grade of 1 indicates replacement level, a grade of 5 indicates NBA average, and a grade of 10 indicates historically elite.
What role does the team who drafts Culver want him to play? In most profiles, we wait until later to get into such a difficult question, but so much of his game will be built on that question. For an off-ball guard, he has solid handling skills. He has a nice change-of-pace dribble and uses his strength very well to create driving lanes. He is patient when picking his spots and can generally get where he wants to go. That being said if a team wants him as a lead guard (probably not his best role, but one he has been thrust into this season), his skills leave something to be desired. He can be a little loose with the ball and keeps his upper body too stiff when executing anything above a routine dribble move. He doesn’t have great wiggle or burst and can struggle to create separation. If an NBA team sees him as a primary initiator, this will be an area he will have to clean up.
Another area where his patience shows, Culver is good at making complex diagnoses on the move and will generally find the best shot, whether for himself or a teammate. He does a good job using his own scoring gravity, often taking an extra dribble or step to lure a help defender or force a rotation. He is able to drive, draw help, and find bigs for lobs. A willing passer, he is not always accurate. Nonetheless he has a good feel for passing, makes quick touch passes, and understands how to exploit rotating defense.
Shooting off the dribble
While he is still a little slow rising up off the bounce, Culver has improved his ability to shoot off the dribble going into his sophomore season. Last season, he had senior Keenan Evans to do a bulk of the heavy lifting as the primary initiator. This season, however, he has had to take the wheel and the result has certainly given NBA scouts another dimension of his game to examine. His shot still isn’t fluid and he holds the ball at the top of his shot for a beat too long, but has developed into a confident shooter. Culver has a nice array of pull ups and stepbacks, and has flashed turn arounds, lulling defenders to sleep with his patience then using his length to create separation for a shot.
Finishing off the dribble
Culver has been able to get into the paint well this season, a testament to his strength. Despite not having great explosiveness, quickness, or even the best handle he’s still pretty effective as a driver because he’s solid in all three of those areas and then has terrific body control around the rim. He is able to alter his shot and finish and absorb contact without being knocked off his spot and is also very good at using his shoulders to create space and ward off would-be shot blockers. He is at his best with a full head of steam because he lacks elite burst. He drives hard toward the rim and can power through the meeting point with his defender but has had trouble against bigger rim protectors when he tries to muscle through them. This is where his lack of elite burst or wiggle hurts him.
Finishing in the post
While Culver doesn’t have a ton of post up possessions, Texas Tech head coach Chris Beard is fond of running a set play where Culver comes from the weak side and gets a cross screen from a big and quick posts his man in the right short corner. The play allows him to be isolated against a defender in a post up situation. He has shown a nice turnaround jumper, using his leg to keep separation over the smaller defender and getting a high arc on the ball. When he tries to turn more inside he has had less success, usually getting caught by help side rotations. While this isn’t a huge part of his repertoire, the fact that he is familiar and comfortable with the situation might lead to further development in this area.