Second-Round Candidate: Tony Carr
ID CARD: 6-foot-4½ point guard, Penn State, sophomore, 20 years old
DRAFT RANGE: Ranked 56th by ESPN.com; 51st by SI.com; 18th among guards by NBA.com
SCOUTS LOVE: Carr has plus size for a point guard and he was productive (19.6 points a game) as a 20-year-old in his sophomore season. The rare four-star recruit to sign with Penn State, Carr was the best player on a mediocre team two years running at State College. His assist-to-turnover ratio of better than 2:1 suggests he has a chance to stick at point guard, though his strength always figures to be as a scorer. Carr shows strengths as a rebounder, playmaker and defender, though there’s no overwhelming strength other than the outstanding 3-point percentage of .433 as a sophomore on 5.5 attempts per game from beyond the arc.
SCOUTS WONDER: Carr had the ball in his hands on every possession at Penn State but to carve out a role in the NBA his greatest appeal will be as a combo guard who can play the point but play off the ball, spot up and knock down threes, as well. And that’s a question. And as impressive as the .433 3-point shooting was as a sophomore, Carr hit just .320 as a freshman and in both of his college seasons he shot less than 40 percent from inside the arc, raising questions about his effectiveness in the paint or from the mid-range.
NUMBER TO NOTE: 25 – That was Carr’s standing vertical jump at the NBA draft combine last month, tied for the lowest recorded. He also had poor times in the lane agility and shuttle runs, the worst or close to it among perimeter players and beaten out by many big men. The truth about any draft is that once you get past the top 20 to 25 players, there is very little separation for the next 30 players or so. Most teams don’t put enormous stock in athletic testing numbers, but Carr’s are poor enough for a guard that it could be the tiebreaker for a lot of front offices.
MONEY QUOTE: “My great vision, I feel like that will transfer to the next level. I feel like I have a great knack for getting guys open shots. I have a great feel for the game. Some great scorers at that level – probably a great scorer on whatever team drafts me – and I feel like I’ll do a great job getting him the ball. Also just playing in pick and rolls and scoring off of that and getting the bigs involved.” – Tony Carr on what he believes NBA teams will find appealing about him as he spoke at the NBA draft combine in Chicago last month
PISTONS FIT: Carr reported interviewing with the Pistons at the combine, so he’s at least on their radar. If Carr hits his mark and can handle both backcourt positions, his size and 3-point shooting will hold long-term appeal. There wouldn’t be an obvious path to playing time for him as a rookie – not with Reggie Jackson and Ish Smith at point guard; Luke Kennard and Reggie Bullock at shooting guard; and Langston Galloway backing up at both spots – but Smith and Bullock will be free agents a year from now and Carr could be in line to fight for minutes at that point.
BOTTOM LINE: How much will his poor athletic testing at the combine hurt Carr? Teams will be looking to dig a little deeper into those numbers and how Carr trained for the combine to gauge if those are unfixable flaws or areas that can be addressed with modern NBA training methods. Then Carr’s ability to handle point guard at the NBA level – and his projected effectiveness in pick and roll – will be determining factors in how he’s assessed across league front offices. His stock has taken a hit and while the consensus doesn’t preclude any individual team in love with him from taking Carr ahead of the Pistons pick at 42, it appears more likely than not that he’ll be available to them.