2018 NBA Draft Profile: Wendell Carter Jr.
When you look around the National Basketball Association, you see a lot of three-pointers from guards. Now, you are starting to see a lot of four and five positions do the same thing. The inside game is almost non-existent in today’s game. But what if I told you there is a player in the 2018 NBA Draft Class that is a mobile big and has been improving his three-point shooting on the fly? That player is none other than Wendell Carter Jr. from Duke.
Cleveland is a gritty city and Carter fits that profile very well. While at Duke, he did not attempt many three-pointers in the early part of the year but as the season went on, Carter extended his range more often. Carter went 19-for-46 from the three-point line, including a 4-for-7 three-point onslaught against Evansville.
Not only is Carter starting to extend his range, he already has the full package. His 7’3” length is one of his biggest strengths. Carter also has a 9’ standing reach alone. Carter is one of the better back-to-the-basket players in this draft since he has a solid post-game. He grabbed 335 total rebounds at Duke over 37 games but 109 of them were on the offensive end. He keeps possessions alive and this is one of the areas the Cavaliers lack, especially when it comes to rebounding.
Two of his most underrated attributes are ball handling and foul shooting. He attacks the defense and can finish around the rim while drawing a lot of fouls and contact in the process. His ability to finish with either hand is a plus including his soft touch around the rim. Carter shot 56% from the field during this campaign at Duke. He is also one of the better passing bigs in the draft since he has the vision to make a difficult pass. As for his foul shooting, Carter struggling in the beginning from the line shooting around 50% but steadily improved throughout the season to finish at 74%.
At Duke, Carter anchored the defense with Marvin Bagley but Carter was known to get his hands dirty more. He had 74 blocks, or in other words, he averaged two blocks per game. LeBron led the Cavaliers with 1.05 blocks per game, while the Cavaliers center position was led by Larry Nance Jr., who averaged 0.70 blocks per game. Carter’s length could help the Cavaliers, especially when it comes to closing out on three-pointer shooters.
One thing Carter would need to improve on is his closeouts and staying in shape. Carter has a thicker build and can easily get out of shape. Carter commits some fouls throughout the game and can be late on rotations. His reacting on defense needs to improve but his length makes up for that at times.
Carter’s all-around game reminds me of Al Horford in many ways. Horford was always an undersized four that was stuck at the five position for most of his career. Horford has started to shoot more three-pointers over the past three seasons as the NBA transitions to a different age. He also is gritty on both sides of the ball and is one of better big passers in the league.
Carter would more than likely be continuing his career at the five position in the NBA but could also play the four position in some cases if drafted by the Cavaliers at eight. You could see Love possibly move back to the five because the Cavaliers were dominant when Love started at the five before he broke his hand. This would allow Carter to learn the stretch four position and shoot a bunch of threes as he keeps improving his jump shot.
Some other possibilities the Cavaliers might explore this offseason is moving Tristan Thompson. Thompson is due almost $18 million, which would open up more money to bring in a player like Paul George to entice LeBron to stay.
By drafting Carter, you would already have a more aggressive version of Thompson and a cheaper option as well. Carter is an improvement already and gives the Cavaliers a better option at the four or five because of his shooting ability. The Cavaliers have been talking about giving Larry Nance an extension but having three bigs (Thompson, Nance, Ante Zizic) that cannot shoot outside of 10 feet, is not good in a league that is trending towards the three-point line. Carter gives the Cavaliers an option to stretch the floor and have five shooters on the three-point line while keeping the defense honest.
Carter is a gritty player that would fit perfectly in Cleveland. He can rebound the ball, run up and down the court in transition, pass and finish around the rim. He does not complain and works hard. He is versatile and with the Cavaliers needing a big man that does multiple things on the floor, Wendell Carter Jr. should be the 8th overall pick for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Photo credits to PeachTree Hoops