by Alex Poletti
With the NBA draft just over one month away, The Second String brings a series where our team of analysts dissects every aspect of a prospect’s game to see if they are really worth a top ten lottery pick. Here’s our pick for number five:
Last week, Virginia took center stage in our prospect spotlight. For number five, we look to the losers, Texas Tech, and their star Jarrett Culver.
After a nondescript freshman year, the Lubbock, Texas, native made his way into the national spotlight with a stellar season as Texas Tech’s primary weapon. The sophomore averaged 18.5 points for the Red Raiders while putting up a modest 6.4 rebounds a game.
At 6’6 and just 195 pounds, Culver’s lean frame could be concerning to some scouts. His ability to carry a team on his back, however, more than makes up for these concerns.
One thing that the analysts at The Second String couldn’t shake was Culver’s performance in the National Championship, where he was shut down by our number four pick, De’Andre Hunter. His performance has drawn an interesting player comp in former NBA MVP Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook has earned his place as one of basketball’s elite stars, averaging a triple-double for the third straight season. While he stands three inches shorter than Culver and plays a completely different style of basketball, the postseason similarities are there.
“Really, if we isolate exclusively Westbrook’s postseason performance over the past two years and compare that to Culver’s game against Virginia, you can’t unsee the likeness,” Gabe Radtke, lead analyst for The Second String, says. “They both have an uncanny ability to brick shots when it matters most.”
Despite his strong regular season numbers, Westbrook struggles to keep his game at a high level when the lights shine the brightest; in game four against the Trail Blazers earlier this year, Westbrook embarrassed himself by going 0-of-7 from the field.
This is really where Culver’s game collapses, too; he sported a 22 percent field goal percentage in the title game.
To put that number in perspective, The Second String asked 100 people from the nearest Culver’s chain to make a free-throw shot. 24 of the fast-food customers succeeded, showing the superior Culver in the basketball world may come with a frozen custard.
Will Culver repeat Westbrook’s regular season performance? It’s hard to say. But we are pretty positive about how his playoff performances will turn out. For the team at number five, Culver is not a bad pick, especially since most lottery teams are planning on tanking until the late ‘20s anyway, so Culver won’t touch a playoff basketball any time soon.