Prospect Preview: Wendell Carter Jr.

by Christopher Dempsey
Nuggets Insider
@chrisadempsey

WENDELL CARTER JR., C, DUKE
Class: Freshman
Ht: 6-foot-10
Wt: 259 pounds
2017-18 Stats: 13.5 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg

HOW HE OPERATES

On one of his recent team workouts, Wendell Carter Jr. said many Duke players will be better in the NBA than they were in college due to better spacing and an increased role. He’s hoping to be right at the top of that list. And yet, Carter played his role very well in his one season in Durham, nearly averaging a double-double while swatting away two shots per game. He profiles as the kind of player that can duplicate that production in the NBA.

At Duke, he was a good shooter overall, making 56.1 percent from the field, 41.3 from the 3-point line (1.2 attempts per game) and 73.8 from the free throw line. His numbers, extrapolated per 40 minutes or per 100 possessions, balloon to being major averages.

How good a shooter was he? Very good. Because Carter Jr. was not a great post-up player at Duke. He made just 42 percent of his shots on the block, so he’ll need to improve there. Still, in today’s NBA, where post touches have diminished for bigs, that isn’t a huge concern coming into the league. The issue on the block is he didn’t have a lot of confidence in turning over his left shoulder for a right-handed hook, so he rarely used it. His preference was to always get back to his right shoulder/left hand, and he was best up-faking and getting to the basket in those situations.

What all of that means is Carter shot extremely well in every other category to get that overall average of 56 percent. His best offense right now is in the energy categories. He runs the court extremely well, and finishes strong with dunks. He’s a big body, and many players moved right out of the way when he charged hard to the rim. Carter moves well in half-court offense and is good in cutting action, and crashes the offensive glass as well. He shot over 70 percent in offensive rebound put backs and in cuts; and nearly 60 percent in transition. He has the ability to knock down a straightaway 3-point shot as the trailer in transition, and did so, which should keep defenses honest in the NBA.

Also, you can put Carter in pick-and-roll right now, and he’ll cut hard to the rim, finish or crash the glass on a missed attempt.

Defensively, Carter excelled. He is the kind of player that can switch onto smaller, quicker athletes and guard them well. He has great feet on the perimeter for a big, and a long wingspan, which helps in contesting shots on pull-up jumpers. His size helps him hold his own on the block, and Carter is a bonafide rim protector, averaging 2.1 blocks per game.

HIS BEST FIT

Carter’s ideal situation is on a team looking for immediate rim protection, size and rebounding. He does not get pushed around on the court. He’s already shown that he can fit into a system, and in fact he’s gone on his workout tour stating he can fit into any team’s system. He profiles that way. As he improves offensively, his role will expand there as well.

Christopher Dempsey: christopher.dempsey@altitude.tv and @chrisadempsey on Twitter

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