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What Can We Expect From Jarrett Culver's First Preseason Game?
Jarrett Culver will suit up for his first NBA game on Tuesday night in Phoenix.
It’s only a preseason game, but of course fans are itching to see how the rookie looks.
There is some irony that his first game will be against the Suns, the team that ended up trading him to the Timberwolves in exchange for Cameron Johnson and Dario Saric.
We don’t know how many minutes Culver will get or where he’ll be in the rotation. He said during Tuesday’s shootaround that his main goal was just to play hard, which of course is a good goal because that's the one thing you can control. His teammates and coaches have told him no matter what happens, just to keep his head up. The rest will work itself out.
“They just always tell me confidence,” Culver said. “They know what I can do and I know what I can do, so they just tell me confidence and keep building on that and you know, play hard. When you play hard, other things will come, your offense, your shot. Everything else will come if you play hard, so that’s what I’m gonna do.”
Defense is Culver’s calling card. He can guard multiple positions, but offensively, he’s a player who moves well without the ball and does a good job getting to the basket. Don't sleep on his playmaking and how he could add a scoring boost to this team. Additionally, the Wolves are hoping to groom him into more of a ball-handler as well as he develops.
For Culver, this first game won’t be about doing anything flashy, although fans will certainly take it. The coaching staff just wants him to do what got him here.
“When he’s handling the ball, that he’s making the correct reads, when he’s playing off the ball, that he’s cutting, an active participant within the offense if he doesn’t have the basketball,” Coach Ryan Saunders said on his expectations for Culver. “And then defensively, I want to see him guard multiple positions.”
It says a lot that the Wolves were willing to trade Saric, along with another young asset, to acquire Culver. Saric was a guy the Timberwolves felt very strongly about, both on the court and in the locker room. He was great in the locker room, even if it did take him some time to feel completely comfortable with the team.
“I think very highly of Dario. I think he’s going to do some real positive things here in Phoenix,” Saunders said. “ . . . I think it just shows what we think of Jarrett and what we think he can be as a player to give up an asset like Dario to acquire Jarrett.”
Karl-Anthony Towns actually called his friend and old college teammate Devin Booker to let him know that the Suns were getting a good one.
“I called him and told him how fortunate he is to have a player like him,” Towns said. “He’s really talented and really good and he’s one of those guys you just love to have in the locker room. Dario’s such a great person to have around, not only for the basketball side, but just who he is.”
It will also be a reuinion for the Wolves and new Suns point guard Ricky Rubio, who spent 2011-17 with the franchise. Rubio has a great relationship with Saunders. The two have bonded through grief – Rubio losing his mother and Saunders losing his father. You should definitely read Jon Krawczynski’s piece from The Athletic here from last winter detailing their relationship. I would expect a big hug between the two before and after the game.
Saunders didn’t reveal his starting lineup at shootaround, but chances are the players have a pretty good idea.
Tipoff is set for 9 p.m. CT. The game will not air on TV or radio. Check out the team’s social channels for updates.