Here’s what we know about 22-year-old, 6-foot-1 point guard Jevon Carter: he was a four-year college player at a Power Five conference school with a decent career 3-point shooting percentage of 35.5 percent (39 percent his senior year) and is generally an extremely stout on-ball defender with impressive statistics and, mind you, impressive effect on the game that statistics cannot measure.
We also know that some other NBA hopefuls do not want to be involved in the same pre-draft workout with Carter and have cancelled once they become aware of his invitation. Point blank, certain players know they’ll possibly look bad in a tryout setting going against Carter and his one-track defensive mindset. They want none of it. That, without a doubt, says something about the players who are cancelling their workouts, but it also says something about Carter.
I may be piling on, but Matt Norlander, a well-known and respected college basketball writer, said Carter embraces defense like a shark embraces blood.
If it were up to me, that would be all you would need to know about the NBA prospect and very probable second-round draft pick. The only worry to be had is if Carter is around for the Pistons to take him at No. 42. If Carter is available, how do the Pistons not take a quality offensive point guard that is also a tone setter on defense?
Speaking of defense, West Virginia is often referred to as Press Virginia because they press all the time. And I’d bet a lot of money that they know all about the other team’s ball handlers and who is allergic to dribbling with their weak hand. They know all of it. Essentially, Carter (2) knows that this Missouri guard isn’t comfortable starting the possession going to his left, as you‘ll see just below. Carter also is confident that he’s in better physical shape than just about any other point guard in the country, so when the Missouri guard clearly wants to slow the action down, Carter gets in his grill and forces the action. Carter is in a whole different mode than his opponent, multiple steps ahead. As the offense wants to slow things down being that they have the lead and crunch time is quickly approaching, Carter speeds up the game for the uncertain and probably fatigued ball handler.
Carter can get a bit slap-happy with his quick hands and superb anticipation ability, and is known to be an easy target to be called for reach-in and slapping fouls. He’ll have to adjust to NBA referees and definitely to those certain NBA referees who favor star players over non-star players. Once Carter secures a reputation as being a tough on-ball defender, he’ll more times than not get the benefit of the doubt.
Looking at Carter’s defensive form and strategy, you’ll soon realize Carter’s lateral foot speed is quick and crisp. And it’ll really have to continue to be excellent at the pro level as Carter’s limited wingspan (6’4) won’t often be enough to bail him out on contesting jump shots or opportunities at the rim.
Against Trae Young, a player with various offensive tools and someone who can stop on a dime to shoot the jumper, Carter moves his feet well as he stays low, centered and grounded, not falling for Young’s shot fake. Carter’s stays locked in and takes a slight shoulder nudge from the much lighter Young, and overall has Young in a precarious spot with him having picked up his dribble and in the corner. Again, Jevon slaps at the ball (more wildly this time) and makes the instinctive play. If you display any type of hesitation against Carter then you are probably going to be blitzed. Carter will make you pay dearly.
A classic case of ‘see the ball and see your man’ defense. Carter is in solid position here.
Now, say if Carter isn’t so aware of the ball handler, then he might not be in prime enough position to make that steal. Over-playing your own man doesn’t usually work the higher up you go in basketball. And often times it’s not a good technique for team defense purposes, either. Additionally, if Carter is overly aware of the ball handler, then he could lose sight of where his own man is at. That’s how back-doors for easy buckets and wide open jump shots happen.
This last piece of video includes two clips.
In the first one, Carter is doing a little bit of face guarding up the floor, but mostly just sticking close to his man (Devonte’ Graham) and not allowing Graham to have any clear opportunity to receive the ball. Carter has enough freedom in his college system where he can do some freelance harassing and not get his coach too upset about it. There‘s a trust and understanding between them. West Virginia at times really likes to come out far on the perimeter and cut off angles, not allowing wing players easy access to a pass. On this particular play, West Virginia is completely content with Svi Mykhailiuk creating his own shot rather than allowing a more talented playmaker on the floor to take control the possession. As Graham moves through the lane and back out to the perimeter, Carter is always touching or slightly grabbing him. It obviously helps the defensive player stay connected with the offensive player and keep aware of what quick movements they may be inclined to try, and unless the offensive player complains over and over to the referees about the constant grabbing-like contact, the defensive player can (and should) do it as much as they can. It‘s something they are taught to do and the good ones are hardly ever noticed doing it.
The second clip is Carter with some controlled harassment on Malik Newman (like Graham, a potential second round pick), making Newman‘s trip up the floor far from an easy one. Carter makes Newman change directions a few times and it’s evident Newman wasn’t going to be breaking down Carter in any way. Carter made it uncomfortable for the ball handler and made the opponent really work at getting into their offense.
Looking at possibilities in the NBA, Carter probably could amount to a high level backup point guard or even a starter with the right kind of talented, position-less team around him. I believe that’s the ceiling for him. You’d figure at most that’s worth 20 or so minutes per game. That could very well be an ideal fit for Carter’s style of defense and his overall mentality. A lot of the time he’ll be matched up with the other team’s backup point guard or ball handler, and he can often give tremendous defensive effort and disrupt the second unit’s offense. If the opponent’s lead ball handler is wreaking havoc, Carter could be effective at slowing that down, too. With Carter’s defensive effort and skill level, you have many good options.
As an NBA team maneuvers through a super long season, any advantage a bench unit can have over another is one that needs to be fleshed out and not overlooked. Benches matter — and a guy like Carter just seems like a key bench piece right out of the gate. If you can nab that piece in the second round, you don’t think twice.
In other DBB threads during the last several weeks and months, Carter’s offensive ability has been discussed and tossed about. It’s nothing that will knock your socks off at the NBA level, but there‘s enough shooting ability and strength and speed that he‘ll be functional, maybe even a weapon if there’s talent around him. I‘m confident that Carter won’t just be a defensive-oriented backup who is largely a situational player. As I said, Carter has the tools and mentality to be a high level backup point guard in the NBA. If the Pistons want him, they likely won’t be able to wait until selection number 42.
The question is, will the Pistons move up in the draft and take a pretty safe talent like Jevon Carter?