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Wendell Carter Jr. dominated the summer league for the Chicago Bulls and has inspired those who doubted the pick to believe. Carter Jr. will make an immediate impact for the Bulls this year and will be a Rookie of the Year candidate. Carter Jr.’s NBA ready body, versatile skill-set, and overall intelligence will result in an explosive rookie season. Carter Jr. has been labeled a “safe pick,” which is true, but leads people away from his potential to be an All-NBA player for years to come. (Also, make sure to check out the summer league highlights below, they are very impressive.)
I think he’s [Carter Jr.] the perfect modern day 5 in the NBA when you look at it.
— Jon Scheyer, a long time assistant to Coach K at Duke
Most rookies spend the summer after the draft on intense weight and nutrition programs to get their body NBA ready, adding on weight as fast as possible. Over the years we’ve seen several big-men fail in the NBA because they go from being amongst college basketball’s largest players to average in the NBA. This problem is commonly talked about using the phrases “He’s between positions” or “his game didn’t transfer to the NBA.” Guards have a similar issue with quickness and speed instead of length and weight. Wendell Carter Jr. stands at 6 feet 10 inches, with a 7-foot 4-inch wingspan and weighs in at 250 pounds. Carter Jr.’s impressive stature matches up with some of the league’s best and biggest.
Carter Jr. weighs in at 250 pounds puts him within 5 pounds of Anthony Davis (254), Joel Embiid (249), Karl Anthony-Towns (247), and much heavier than other post players such as Serge Ibaka (235). These are some of the most physically dominant players in the game today. Carter Jr.’s weight will help him battle for position on both ends of the floor. Standing at 6’10” may seem short for a 5, but the current average height for centers in the NBA is 6 feet and 9.8 inches. With a wingspan of 7’4” Carter Jr. will be able to block and change shots of even the NBA’s largest players. Carter Jr.’s wingspan is longer than Ibaka’s (7’3”), the same as Anthony-Towns (7’4”), and only 2 inches short of Davis and Embiid (7’6”). For further credibility and more comparisons check out the table below.
Wendell Carter Jr. Player Comparisons
Wendell Carter Jr.
Skill Set and Versatility
Carter Jr. has a versatile skill set for a center, which will fit perfectly in the NBA. Carter Jr. shot over 40% from 3-point range and averaged more than 2 blocks a game in college. This is important because most big men who are threats from 3-point range lack rim protection skill. Al Horford, Kevin Love, and Carter Jr.’s future front-court teammate Lauri Markkanen come to mind. The ability to stretch the floor on offense and protect the rim on defense already places Carter Jr. amongst rare company. Other players with this ability are Anthony Davis, Karl Anthony-Towns and Joel Embiid. These players are commonly considered some of the league’s best, which shows Carter Jr.’s potential. While Jaren Jackson Jr. may perform the best when switching onto guards, Carter Jr. is a close second. Carter Jr. defends guards better than the other big men in the 2018 draft class such as DeAndre Ayton and Marvin Bagley.
Check out Wendell Carter Jr. switching back and forth from big man to guard when defending the pick and roll. This is a huge defensive liability for centers in the NBA. The ability to defend guards when switching off a pick and roll is what makes Carter Jr. a rare breed defensively.
Wendell Carter Jr. Pick and Roll Defense
Carter Jr. will be able to show more of his skill set in the NBA than he did in college. Marvin Bagley III has a great skill set, but isn’t much of a rim protector. This forces Carter Jr. to be the primary rim defender in college, which has a five foul per game limit compared to the NBA’s six. This resulted in a lot of foul trouble for Carter Jr., which decreased his overall playing time and led to misleading season averages. When asked about his teammates in an interview for ESPN Carter Jr. explained that at Duke they run a system. This system, no doubt, works great but can limit the individual’s ability to show their skills. This results in both misleading statistics and game film that doesn’t represent the player’s full skill set.
Wendell Carter Jr.'s Intelligence
Carter Jr. is also one of the most intelligent professional athletes. Carter Jr. chose the basketball powerhouse Duke University over Harvard. Harvard! Now considering he knew he was one year and to the NBA this was a smart business decision. ACT and SAT scores don’t directly translate to buckets or blocks, but there is a correlation between intelligence level and career success. Just a few recent players to show academic excellence before becoming NBA All-Stars:
3.9 GPA, admitted to Stanford University
Academic All-American (2005)
Was enrolled in medical school before choosing the NBA, fluent in 3 languages
30 ACT, admitted to Yale University, majored in Civil Engineering at Bradley University
This doesn’t mean you need to be a genius to have success in the NBA, but there is a connection. Could be the similar level of discipline needed to achieve such high academic accomplishments carries over to basketball (or vice versa). Could be the similarities in breaking down dense text book chapters and breaking down an opposing team’s defensive scheme. Whether the connection is strong or not, this is a vote of confidence for Carter Jr. Brains could prove very valuable to Carter Jr. considering how difficult transition from college to the NBA can be for a 19-year-old, both on and off the court.
Wendell Carter Jr.'s Future
If you notice the players with similar size and skill sets as Wendell Carter Jr., they are the league’s best big men. I’m not saying Carter Jr. will come into the NBA and be an MVP candidate (right away), that’s just unrealistic, but the similarities show where his career can go. Carter Jr. does have an advantage, Davis did not come into the NBA with the physical foundation Carter Jr. has, he had to build towards it. Embiid had almost two full seasons to build muscle and add weight before he was playing an entire season. This can fast-track Carter Jr.’s journey to becoming an All-Star. To add to the obvious similarities at the base of this comparison, a quote from Jon Scheyer “I think he’s [Carter Jr.] the perfect modern day 5 in the NBA when you look at it.” Jon Scheyer is a long-time, trusted assistant of Coach K at Duke. The future is promising for this young player and in Chicago, he will have plenty of room to grow and show the world what he can do.
How do you think Carter Jr.’s career will go? Leave a comment or tweet me your thoughts!