Minnesota Timberwolves 2019 NBA draft grades
The Minnesota Timberwolves have their new players – well, officially as of July – and so of course it’s now time to determine how they did with their 2019 NBA draft picks.
Is it a mite early to be judging players who have yet to step foot on an NBA court? Of course. But grading draft picks is all part of the fun. And in the NBA, these picks, especially the first-rounders, are expected to contribute ASAP, so it’s perhaps easier to judge a fit.
The true grade won’t be known for years down the road. But for Jarrett Culver and Jaylen Nowell, the time is now for their immediate grade.
We’ve broken it down into three parts: Grades for both Culver and Nowell individually (and quite frankly not many people grade second-round picks) and then team grades, for those who like to bunch all the picks into one big grade.
With that out of the way, here are the Wolves’ 2019 NBA draft grades from around the web:
Jeremy Woo of SI.com: A. “This is strong value for Minnesota at No. 6, landing a player who you can argue for as the third-best prospect in the draft. Culver has made major strides, plays hard on both ends and should be a positive contributor for the Wolves. He’s a relatively safe choice for them, but also fits nicely with what they have on the roster, and comes with an appealing floor and ceiling. The Wolves maneuvered effectively to this spot and made a strong decision.”
Gary Parrish of CBSSports.com: B. “They probably could have went after the high-speed playmaker of Coby White, but Culver is probably the safest pick to make at this point. His ceiling may not match White's or others', but he's going to be solid.”
Jonathan Tjarks of The Ringer: B. “The good news is that Culver still makes a lot of sense with the rest of the Wolves roster. The biggest concern about Culver is his ability to stretch the floor, and playing next to an elite stretch big man like Karl-Anthony Towns will allow him to attack the rim. Culver is a great shooter and versatile defensive player who will make Minnesota better on both ends of the floor. With Jimmy Butler gone and Andrew Wiggins underperforming, everything in Minnesota now revolves around Towns. Culver may never be a big-time scorer, but he will make life easier for their star big man.”
David Kay of WalterFootball.com: B-. “The Wolves dealt Dario Saric and 11 to move up and grab Culver at 6. I'm surprised they passed on a needed point guard of the future in Coby White, but Culver is a versatile wing who can defend numerous positions. He, Andrew Wiggins and Robert Covington do make an intriguing trio alongside Karl-Anthony Towns up front.”
Chris Stone of the Sporting News: B+. “Culver ... has some legitimate upside. He came into the draft as the No. 4 prospect on our big board. The 20-year-old is also the third-highest rated prospect in FiveThirtyEight's upside model. Why? Culver checks the boxes on both sides of the ball, and his ability to generate steals sticks out, in particular. He's not necessarily a defensive stopper, but his steal rate suggests a certain innate feel for the game that's often present in prospects who outperform expectations. ... Culver's got a high basketball IQ, he's a hard worker and he has enough skill to work with as a base. Minnesota needs to find additional talent to pair with Karl-Anthony Towns after the Andrew Wiggins deal went down in flames. This should be a good start.”
Ricky O’Donnell of SB Nation: A. “Culver is the second-best player in this draft on my personal board. A 6’7 combo guard who can initiate the offense, Culver scored efficiently on every type of play during his sophomore year at Texas Tech. He also played a pivotal role in college basketball’s greatest defense of the modern era, showing great ability to make plays as a help defender while also being able to guard three or four positions. The Wolves made a bold trade up from No. 11 to No. 6 and found a young guard who can complement Karl-Anthony Towns well. Culver is the draft’s second most versatile player after [Zion] Williamson and projects as one of the few players in the draft to be a positive on both ends of the floor. This is a strong start for Minnesota’s new front office.”
Jeff Eisenberg of Yahoo Sports: B. “Culver lacks the explosive athleticism or shiftiness off the dribble to emerge as a star in the NBA, but the hard worker is a good bet to become a solid two-way starter. The key will be if he can become a more consistent outside shooter.”
Matthew Schoch of the Detroit News: B+.
Robby Kalland and Brad Rowland of Dime Magazine: A-. “The Wolves paid a substantial price to climb up to No. 6 earlier in the day and, in the end, the team grabs a top-five prospect in this class. Culver isn’t an overly sexy prospect, but he brings two-way appeal and there is some theoretical upside with his offensive game. The question with Culver is his shooting, which isn’t ideal alongside Andrew Wiggins, but the presence of Karl-Anthony Towns covers up for a lot and Culver is an excellent value in this slot.”
Andy Larsen of the Salt Lake Tribune: B+. “Culver’s a multi-faceted guard: he’s a smart player, a good shooter, and an impactful defender on one of the NCAA’s best defenses last year. Minnesota clearly needs wings, Culver should give them help.”
Nicklaus Gray of the Tennessean: C-. “Is Culver a NBA-level athlete as a guard? He was good at Tech during the NCAA Tournament, but his explosiveness didn't really show up on film. Culver isn't a great shooter either; he can defend, but Culver can't score at a level that a good top 10 pick should be able to.”
Tom Westerholm of masslive.com: C+. “This grade is actually helped by Culver, who is a very solid two-way guard with pick-and-roll potential and good scoring. Why it gets docked is the process: Minnesota moved Dario Saric and the No. 11 pick to get up to No. 6 hoping to draft Darius Garland, but Garland went to the Cavaliers. That’s a big swing and a miss.”
Kyle Boone of CBSSports.com: B. “Josh Okogie was a hit last year for Minnesota late in the first, and Nowell should be a similar hit midway through the second. He's an aggressive scorer who can prove his value as a plus-offensive player.”
David Kay of WalterFootball.com: C-. “Nowell is a good scorer although I question whether he can do it at the next level. Plus, Minnesota just snagged a wing earlier in Jarrett Culver and took Josh Okogie last year.”
Nicklaus Gray of the Tennessean: D.
GPA: Inc. (only three grades)
Tim Bielik of cleveland.com: B+. “The Timberwolves have quietly put together back-to-back solid drafts. Culver was considered a player that could have gone as high as the fourth pick with the ability to score and defend. Nowell, the reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year, will probably spend time in the G-League.”
Steve Alexander of Rotoworld: B.
David Kenyon of Bleacher Report: B+.
Kyle Boone of CBSSports.com: B+.
Brian Fonseca of NJ Advance Media: C+. “Jarrett Culver can become a great two-way player in the NBA. He certainly has the size for it, played elite defense at Texas Tech and got to any spot on the floor on the offensive end. The Wolves traded up five spots to get him, sacrificing Dario Saric and the 11th pick, so they are putting a lot of eggs into his basket. Among the slog of prospects after the first three picks, Culver might be the safest bet.”
Zach Braziller of the NY Post: B. “Culver is a good fit, a two-way wing who should contribute immediately for the defensively absent Timberwolves. At 43, Nowell is an accomplished college prospect, the PAC-12 Player of the Year.”