Basketball

Texas Tech Hoops – NBA Update (Culver Improvements, Owens & Mooney sign contracts)

Last season we had a special group of players, and we had some monster talent that did not go overlooked as we made our way into the National Championship game. We all knew Culver was going to be a pick in the NBA Draft, but a few of his buddies on that Final Four squad are now getting a chance to shine in the limelight of the NBA. Let’s first look at Culver and catch-up on how he is doing by checking out some news over in Minnesota…

From Dunking with Wolves

“The Minnesota Timberwolves moved up in the draft to select Jarrett Culver at the No. 6 spot. The rookie from Texas Tech has had a lot of up-and-downs this season, but has started to string consistent performances together over the last handful of games.

Coming into the league, the Wolves believed they were getting a potential two-way star. Thus far, he’s shown more promise on the defensive end with more ups and downs on offense. Culver has been most effective with the ball in his hand, which has its benefits and negatives.

In his first season in the NBA, his shooting splits aren’t good. He’s shooting 36.6 percent from the field, 24 percent from three and an unsightly 40.9 from the charity stripe. His shot motion is herky-jerky at best and simply isn’t conducive to making shots on a regular basis in the NBA.

However, he has done a good job getting to the rim and has scored the bulk of his points there. Culver has shown a lot of flashes finishing at the rim with an increase in explosion.”

So, we all knew that Culver had his work cut out for him in the NBA to get his jumper more efficient. The thing that makes me scratch my head is that he is shooting so dreadful from the charity stripe. His free throw shooting at Tech was around 70%, and to my knowledge nothing changes up much on free throws from 6th grade to the pros… so maybe this is just a mental aspect that he needs to overcome.

He will continue to develop his offense and learn to get a more fluid stroke on his shot as the trainers in the NBA will make sure of it. Just last night he scored a team high 17 points with shooting over 60% from the field, and hitting 1 of 2 three point balls. A positive is that his defensive skills are keeping him on the court as he is getting experience and making improvments to his offensive game. Coach Beard is probably sure proud of that.

Culver has been inserted into the starting lineup for a while now, and is getting some hefty minutes on the floor. He is going to continue to play and grow, there is much promise for him in his rookie season. Get ready to keep seeing his name pop up on SportsCenter.

Speaking of Culver, I had mentioned (and most all of you know) that Owens and Mooney inked deals with a couple NBA teams. First Matt Mooney to the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Cavs has an open roster spot after waiving guard Levi Randolph earlier this week.

From Fear the Sword

“Mooney, a 6’2” Texas Tech product who also played at South Dakota State and Air Force, was playing for the Memphis Hustle in the G League this year after signing an Exhibit 10 deal with the Memphis Grizzlies. Before Memphis, he was on the Atlanta Hawks’ summer league team.

In 24 G League appearances this year, Mooney averaged 12.6 points, 3.2 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.7 steals. The Hustle are currently 18-6 and in second place in the G League Western Conference.

Mooney is an interesting two-way signing because the Cavs already have two guards — Darius Garland and Collin Sexton — who are a key part of the future. Mooney maybe isn’t that, but he feels like insurance in case vets like Brandon Knight and Matthew Dellavedova are shipped out. In the short term, he feels likely to spend time with the Canton Charge in the G League.”

On a two-way contract, Mooney will spend time with the Cavs and in the G League. He can spend up to 45 days on their NBA roster. This is exciting because he will hopefully get some time on the court with the Cavs and have his time to shine. When Mooney is on fire he can light it up from nearly anywhere on the court. We need to keep an eye on him and see when his number gets called up to play in the big show.

And last, but not least… our guy Tariq Owens. You will never change my mind that if Owens was fully 100% healthy for that Championship game against Virginia, we would be the NCAA Champs. Nevertheless, Owens was called by the Phoenix Suns.

From Bright Side of the Sun –

“With the deadline for NBA teams to sign players to two-way contracts looming, the Suns checked that transaction off their team-building to-do list by signing Tariq Owens, a defensive menace from Texas Tech who went to training camp with the Suns and had been with their G League affiliate all season.

Owens is averaging 9.0 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.6 blocks per game across 23 contests this year for Northern Arizona. The big man is shooting 55 percent from the field and has shown the ability to stroke it a bit as well, attempting 16 threes but most importantly making 83 percent of his free-throws.

The Suns seem to only want players who at least show a willingness to shoot, and Owens has at least attempted to extend his range as a pro. After attempting 71 threes at Texas Tech, the big man has continued to improve his free-throw shooting and may have to be a shooting threat to make it in the NBA offensively considering his relative lack of functional strength and play-making.”

Now, it is not known if Owens (or Mooney) will get those 45 days in the NBA… but, what this does is lock them up on roster spots and gives the NBA franchises that signed them the rights to retain them. These professional NBA organizations see major value in Owens and Mooney, and are not going to let these fellas slip away. We need to follow how the rest of the season turns out for our guys from that NCAA Final Four squad. Just knowing that 3 of those starters for Tech now have signed NBA contracts is something to be in awe about.

As I said at the beginning of the post, last year was a special group of players we watched on the court. I cannot wait to see them develop and have some special moments at the highest level. Wreck ’em!!!

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