Jarrett Culver Is The Lead Guard The Chicago Bulls Are Looking For

(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images)
(Photo by John Weast/Getty Images) /

Jarrett Culver isn’t the conventional lead guard, but conventional is what got the Chicago Bulls in this mess. It’s time to swing for the fences.

This is an important draft for the Chicago Bulls. With the rebuild entering year 3, some progress has to be made and that starts with the draft. The Chicago Bulls are looking at lead guards in this draft, and though Jarrett Culver can be classified as the wing, he is also the best lead guard option for the Bulls in this draft.

Jarrett Culver is 6-foot-6 with a 6-foot-6 wingspan and was the engine that drove Texas Tech. As the lone perimeter creator, Culver got tasked with a massive load offensively (32.2 percent usage rate). Despite being a wing at the next level, Culver played well as a primary creator at Texas Tech. Enough so that he showed that he could be a secondary creator at the next level.

The modern NBA has made things a little wacky in the NBA. The 6-foot-9 Pascal Siakam often brought the ball up for the Toronto Raptors to initiate the offense. The lumbering force, Demarcus Cousins, also handled the ball from time to time.

A traditional point guard bringing the ball up is close to extinction. Heck, what is the definition of a PG in 2019? LeBron James is listed at small forward but he controls the ball whenever he’s on the court. So is James, not a point guard while Ben Simmons is all because of a positional designation? Positions are losing their value the more that Basketball progresses.

Kris Dunn opened up in an interview with The Athletic about how the Bulls switching to a multi-ball handler system took the ball out of his hands. Dunn’s usage rate, shot attempts, and points per game all took a decline.  The multi-ball handler system allowed for more flow and freed from players on the roster. Lauri was able to bring the ball up at times, as could Otto.

Culver has the passing chops to be a secondary initiator. If the Bulls chose to take him, they could run a closing lineup of Culver/LaVine/Porter Jr./Markkanen/Wendell Carter Jr. This lineup won’t be up to par with Golden State’s vaunted ‘Death Lineup’, but It’s still a very good modern lineup. That 5-man lineup has the switchability from every position besides Markkanen. Culver being a plus passer is the key for this group.

Culver also can make nice passes out of PnR and processes quickly and hits an opening as soon as he sees it.

Culver only averaged 3.7 assists per game, but that’s a result of his teammates more than an indictment on him. Guard/Forwards that are 6-foot-6 or higher to average 3.7 Apg or more last year include Middleton, Ingles, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Spencer Dinwiddie, etc.

Winslow has grown as a passer since college and went from averaging 2.1 assists per game in college to Miami running him at point guard four years later. Richardson was a four-year college player and in his last season, he averaged 3.6 assists per game while being a focal point for Tennessee. In the NBA, Richardson took four years to become an average playmaker.


Culver still has a pension to make bad passes because of bad decisions, but a team like Bulls have to hope that he’ll grow out of those bad decisions.

Winslow was a year behind the curve because of his situation in College. Playing alongside a true point guard in Tyus Jones and a post player like Jahlil Okafor took away playmaking opportunities for Winslow. Culver being able to have a lot of ball-handling and playmaking responsibility helped to speed up the process.

Last year, the Clippers took Shai Gilgeous-Alexander with the 11th pick, and he started 73 games on a playoff team. Gilgeous-Alexander had a similar meteoric rise to lottery status like Culver. The former Kentucky Wildcat averaged 1.4 more assists than Culver, but their assist rates in college were reasonably similar. Culver doesn’t have the length extension or wiggle of Gilgeous-Alexander, but L.A. Clipper has laid the blueprint for a big guard to succeed in the modern NBA. The problem with this draft is finding a player to help the rebuild and also fit with the current core of the team, especially LaVine.

LaVine is a ball dominant player. The 5th-year guard finished 15th in the NBA in Isolations per game. The former UCLA Bruin didn’t move much off the ball and is a revolving door on defense. To maximize LaVine, the Bulls have to find a wing who is a good defender and can move well off the ball. Lucky for the Bulls, the Red Raider guard can move without the ball.

Mark Jackson talked during the Finals broadcast about a Warriors player not moving into the line of vision of Cousins which caused a turnover. Moving without the ball is something Culver does at a high level.

Culver, in the clip above, sliding to the corner forces Reddish to try and cut off a potential pass which creates an opening for Owens underneath. Those type of smart movements off the ball are subtle but can create easy scoring opportunities. Imagine the easy assists that LaVine can give to Culver in the corner or Wendell Carter Jr. diving to the basket!

While Culver isn’t quite Klay Thompson off the ball, he has a great understanding of when to move and where to move on the court.

The one big hole in Culver’s game is his shooting. He’s capable of hitting shots at all three levels, but the consistency isn’t always there. The former Big 12 Player of the Year shot 30 percent from the three-point line, but he has shown he can hit pull-ups and catch-and-shoot threes. The hitch in his shot can be a big reason why his shot is inconsistent. If Culver’s shot ever becomes consistent, it will open up the strongest part of his game, his finishing.

Culver shot 67.1 percent at the rim according to Hoop-Math.com. Though not an explosive leaper, Culver uses long strides and can finish with either hand.

Culver is also a very good defender. This season he took a step back because of his huge offensive responsibility, but Culver showed flashes of a prospect that can be a good defender in the NBA.

The talk of this draft has been on guys like Darius Garland and Coby White as primary options for the Bulls. This rebuild has been a slow process and has left the Bulls with a roster that is weirdly constructed.

Next. Two-round 2019 NBA Mock Draft post-Anthony Davis trade. dark

Currently, the best passer on the roster is Wendell Carter Jr., and it isn’t particularly close. Culver isn’t a lead guard in the conventional sense, but the traditional approach has gotten the Bulls into the lottery for back-back seasons. It’s time the Bulls think outside of the box.