Wendell Carter Jr. – Duke
CPP Big Board Ranking: #7 Overall (#4 PF/#5 C)
Weight: 251 lbs
Age/Birthday: 19 (4/16/99)
Hometown: Atlanta, GA
High School: Pace Academy
(Grant Kobrin – 1/25/18)
Wendell Carter Jr. is a standout freshman for Duke this year. He is among four highly recruited freshman who have assumed roles as starters on this young Duke squad. As the fifth ranked recruit in the high school class of 2017, Wendell Carter Jr. has only exceeded the high expectations that NBA scouts set for him from early on in his freshman year. He has shown to be the perfect compliment to star center Marvin Bagley III, because of Carter’s versatility and his solid inside-outside game. Often times, Wendell Carter Jr. seems to be overshadowed by Marvin Bagley III, just because of how highly talked about Bagley III was coming into the season. Regardless, NBA scouts have certainly been impressed with Wendell Carter Jr. and his performance for Duke thus far this season. Wendell Carter Jr. should have a great chance of being a top 10 selection in this year’s upcoming draft, assuming he continues to play well against top competition and he shows scouts that he is continuously improving his all around game.
Strengths: Wendell Carter Jr. has a great feel for the game of basketball. When he catches the basketball on the perimeter he is immediately in a triple threat position and when he catches the ball with his back to the basket, he is aggressive and under control. He shows a clear understanding for the game specifically on the offensive end. Naturally, Wendell Jr. makes a tremendous impact on defense with his mobility, long arms, and aggression, but he is also an outstanding shot blocker, both while guarding the ball and while coming from the weak side. He is averaging almost two blocks a game in the shortened collegiate game and has had multiple games with four or more blocks this season. He sometimes needs to play more under control on the defensive end, but has not had too much of an issue with foul trouble at Duke. Regardless, he has shown great promise on the defensive end so far at Duke.
Returning to his offensive game, he is very raw offensively, but has an advanced skill set for a big man of his age. He has a consistent jump shot with range out to three point line where he is shooting an impressive 48% from downtown. Overall he is shooting over 61% from the field in his freshman campaign, which is among the leaders in NCAA basketball this year. The numbers speaks for itself. He is not only a good shooter, but he has an excellent touch in general. He has decent post moves already, including a good drop step and a baby hook in the works. More importantly, Wendell Carter Jr. is composed, confident, and aggressive on the block or in the middle of the lane, with his back to the basket. He also has shown a surprisingly good turnaround jump shot, almost appearing to be similar to Rasheed Wallace’s turnaround jump shot back in the day. He is averaging over 14 points a game with all of the talent around him at Duke, indicating he is already very advanced on the offensive end. Lastly, Wendell Carter Jr. has the biggest advantage over other highly rated big men in the rebounding category. He is averaging over 9 rebounds a game, many of which are coming from the offensive glass. This is extremely valuable to any team and will be the biggest factor in impacting his draft stock as the 2018 NBA Draft approaches us. Overall, Wendell Carter Jr. is one of the biggest named freshman in college basketball this year for a good reason, he is a highly skilled individual who already appears to be NBA ready.
Weaknesses: Wendell Carter Jr. seems a bit slower than he should be considering how athletic and explosive he naturally is. He is often times the last player up the court and possibly might be a bit out of shape, despite playing heavy minutes for Duke this season. He needs to try to address this issue before he turns pro at the end of this season. Otherwise, he might be forced to play as an undersized center in the NBA where he would not be nearly effective as he is in his natural position as a power-forward. Additionally, Carter Jr. has a good jump shot but it does seem a bit slow and mechanical. Overall this area of his game is probably a strength though. He is not a great free throw shooter, as he is shooting below 70% from the freethrow line. This is not a big issue for him, but it may be something that NBA scouts want to see improvement in during his transition to the pro game. His post moves are advanced but will need to be quicker against NBA defenders. Also, he often seems to be a below the rim player when he is in the paint. There is nothing necessarily wrong with this. Lamarcus Aldridge, Zach Randolph, and many other big men have had great success in the NBA as below the rim players. Athletically though, he may have the potential to become more of an above the rim player. On the defensive end he leaves his feet too often because of his shot blocking ability, which may lead to foul trouble concerns coming into the NBA. He needs to learn to play good defense with his feet on the ground, or else NBA veterans will expose him during his rookie year in the NBA. Lastly, I’ve noticed he has a tendency to put the ball on the floor to much and bring the ball down where he is at danger of losing the ball to smaller guards. This could be an issue in the NBA and is something that he needs to stop doing if he wants to not be considered turnover prone. Wendell Carter Jr. may not have the ceiling of other top prospects in this years stacked draft class, but he will be a threat in the NBA if he can improve upon some of the areas where he has shown weaknesses in.
Player Outlook & NBA Comparison: Al Horford
Most scouts most closely compare Wendell Carter Jr. to Al Horford in his prime. Horford was not the quickest player and was seen as more of a below the rim big man, but was super fundamental, with top notch post moves, a respected outside jumpshot, and good post defense. Wendell Carter Jr. is more athletic than Al Horford ever was and is more of a three pointer shooter as well, but this is probably the closest comparison for him. Regardless, Al Horford has been one of the better big men in the league from the minute he entered the NBA, and Wendell Carter Jr. should hope that he can have a similar caliber career.
Wendell Carter Jr. will be a lottery pick in this year’s draft and is more NBA ready than most of the other big men in this year’s draft class. He has a proven jump shot, a great start on a post a game, and is best known for his rebounding and defensive presence. He should hope to look like Kyle Kuzma has this year as the Los Angeles Lakers power-forward. Nevertheless, Wendell Carter Jr. would be a great fit for many teams who will picking in the lottery this year and has played great with Marvin Bagley III this season, which really shows how versaille he is as a basketball player.
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