Call it the Curse of Chris Beard. Just as it was with do-it-all superhuman Zhaire Smith in Lubbock last year, so it is with Culver this year — it is impossible to peg these guys’ roles in the NBA. Smith was a power forward in a point guard’s body and Culver may be a point guard in a power forward’s body. Beard does a great job finding players that fit his aggressive system and molding them into NBA draft picks but he coaches his team toward extremes that make it difficult to project his players.
For instance, the Red Raiders go to severe lengths to “ice” the pick-and-roll on defense, forcing ball-handlers to the sideline at all costs. This means that Culver, whose length would be a matchup problem immediately in isolation in the NBA, rarely guards scorers one-on-one for Texas Tech. Defense is a team game for Beard’s teams.
Beard also initiates offense from precarious situations. Sometimes, a post-up by athletic big man Tariq Owens. After that, perhaps a pick-and-roll from Culver. It keeps the defense on its heels but begs an obvious question: What is Culver best at? How will he be featured on a pro team?
Against Texas on Sunday, Culver had to get creative. Simple drives against the Longhorns’ Jaxson Hayes weren’t working. So Culver went into the post, pulled up from 3 and tried to avoid the paint more than usual. It showed off even more potential for the sophomore but introduced new questions about what his best NBA situation would look like.