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The NBA Draft brings new hope and anticipation for teams, especially the team’s locked into a lottery pick. Its been some time since we’ve had a plethora of big men at the head of the field. In the 2018 draft the top ten picks will be filled with players of the bigger variety. Let’s take a look at the new age power forwards and centers that will invade the NBA.
Wendell Carter Jr. has already proven he can play well with another player getting most of the attention. His Duke University teammate Marvin Bagley III will also be in the high end of the upcoming NBA draft (and this series) and the two played well together all season. When asked by reporters about playing alongside Bagley, Carter responded, ” My role changed a bit, but I’m a winner. Whatever situation I come into, I automatically buy in. The coaches just want to win. And I want to win too. So whatever they ask me to do, if its just rebounding and blocking shots and setting good picks, I’m willing to do that just to win.”
Carter has a teammate’s mentality and a high basketball IQ. He averaged 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks per game. More importantly he made plays for his teammates and stretched the floor for the other bigs on the Blue Devils. Physically he stands at 6′-10″ and 259 pounds which is already an NBA sized frame. He’s shown a maturity on the court and rarely makes bad decisions.
Offensively he’s not really a crossover dribble guy but he creates space to get his shots off and can blow past his defenders for strong finishes. He has some good post moves, able to make quick plays inside before the double team can get there. He gets up high but is not super athletic, probably more like above average. He only averages 2.0 assists per game but he’s an underrated passer, able to set up teammates for baskets in the right spots.
His jump shot is good-not-great and probably not near where it will be when all is said and done. If you leave him open he will bury the long range shot but hasn’t shown much of a mid range game. His jumper is very slow and methodical and will need a little coaching up to quicken his release. Carter moves well without the ball and defenders have to keep an eye out for him everywhere on the court. He can get to his spot at will using either his quickness or his overall strength.
Carter’s defense is also very good as he can guard multiple positions, even taller wing players and slower guards. He has quick feet not easily taken off the dribble and he closes out on shooters well. The blocks he’s racked up accounted for 41.1% of his teams output on the season and he’s shown a great tendency as a help blocker. His rim protection will improve as his instincts get better as he learns how to pick his battles inside.
His full skills were on display when Duke took on the Southern Jaguars early in the season. Carter finished with a staggering six blocked shots, to go along with 20 points and 11 rebounds. He abused the Jaguars front line with a bunch of great post moves and sent back their shots with authority.
In Duke’s December game versus the Evansville Purple Aces, Carter scored a career high 27 points. The Purple Aces constantly left him open behind the arc and Carter obliged going 4-7 from downtown. He was also able to drive past a few closeout defenders when Evansville finally tried to keep a eye on him out there.
On recent mock drafts Carter has been moved up the board to the top five or six players. Teams covet a guy with a high IQ and the kind of upside that Carter has. His physical comparison to guys like Derrick Favors and Nene plus his overall game comparison to Al Horford makes him an intriguing prospect. His IQ and mentality should make him a winning player and he has All-Star written all over him.