The start of Jarrett Culver’s rookie season was one full of adjustments.
He’ll be the first to admit that, but a lot of times with rookies, we all need that reminder that playing in the NBA is not easy. Schemes are different. Players are stronger and faster. There are different rules. There aren't very many players who get to the NBA and immediately figure it out.
But as of late, Culver has been on a roll.
The sixth-overall pick out of Texas Tech has been one of the league’s best rookies since Dec. 30.
And he’s not just doing it in one way. Culver has been doing so with his all-around game, which was what was so attractive to Timberwolves President of Basketball Operations Gersson Rosas during the draft process.
Culver has four games with 10 or more points, five or more rebounds and five or more assists since Dec. 30. The only other rookie to do that more is Rookie of the Year-favorite Ja Morant.
It’s becoming clear that Culver should be representing the Timberwolves at All-Star Weekend in Chicago in the Rising Stars Challenge.
Since that Dec. 30 date when things started to really click for Culver, no U.S. born rookie has more steals than Culver’s 15. Culver ranks second in both points scored and rebounds hauled in.
The most impressive stat for Culver, though, again shows off his all-around skillset and is a season-long achievement. Among U.S. born rookies, Culver is one of two players who rank in the top-10 in points, rebounds, assists, blocks and steals. The other is Charlotte’s P.J. Washington – a player who has played 200 more minutes than Culver has.
Playing in the Rising Stars Challenge certainly isn’t a make-or-break deal or even an accurate reflection of a player’s rookie year. But it is an opportunity for Culver to be around the best players in the league that should only help his confidence.
“I think that he’s very deserving of that,” Timberwolves coach Ryan Saunders said Tuesday. “You look around the league and Jarrett, the way he’s come on and the way he’s progressed, his improvement and development is a great story over this last month here. . . Being around other players like that, being around other All-Stars . . . that will really help Jarrett.”
Culver knows that the decision to get the invite, which should come on Jan. 28, isn’t up to him. But he’ll be ready if he does get the call.
“That’d be very fun for me – a great opportunity,” Culver said. “A blessing, for sure. I’m just gonna keep working. It’s not my decision who pick, but just keep working to get in that. I think I should, but I’m just gonna keep working for it.”