School: West Virginia
DraftExpress Rank: 33
Season stats: 34.7 minutes, 17.3 points, 6.6 assists, 4.6 rebounds, 3.0 steals, 42.2 FG%, 39.3 3PT%, 85.8 FT%
A quick look at Jevon Carter’s measurables – a 6’1 guard with a wingspan just above 6’4″ that’s nearly 200 pounds – does not remotely tell you the whole story of the player Carter has been in four years at West Virginia.
In “Press Virginia’s” high-intensity, up-tempo defense, guards go non-stop and rarely do they average more than 25 minutes per contest, let alone reach the 30-plus minute mark per game. In his senior year under Bob Huggins, Carter averaged 34.7 minutes per game. It was his second-straight season averaging over 30 minutes.
Carter will step onto the NBA court on day one and be a plus-defender in the league at the point guard position. His motor will make him a fan favorite. He’ll pick up players 94 feet, he’ll play with maximum effort every night and his high basketball IQ will help him overcome some of his physical limitations.
Shot creation – I’m not a big fan of player comps, but Jevon Carter is a unique enough player that I think it’s necessary to give one an idea of the type of player he is. He’s not going to be your average point guard but more like a Derek Fisher. He’s a shooting guard in a point guard’s body.
He’s going to excel most at the next level playing next to a primary creator. A team with a ball-dominant wing player will be a perfect fit for Carter. A team like the Kings would be a terrible fit.
This is all a long way of saying Carter can work in spurts as a creator but it’s unlikely he develops into a player that the offense can consistently run through. Don’t expect him to beat his man off the dribble or break down an opponent.
Pick and roll – The one area where Carter could have some success at the NBA level is in the pick and roll. West Virginia ran a healthy amount of it and with a high-IQ player like Carter. The senior guard averaged 6.6 assists as a senior with West Virginia and can read defenses and set up players to score.
This clip comes from the combine and shows Carter using the screen, getting into the lane and setting up a teammate (though he is erased from humanity by a block).
As fluent as Carter looked in the pick-and-roll at times, his limitations shine through. With a sub-6’5″ wingspan, Carter shot just 50.4 percent at the rim on 131 attempts at the rim last season.
Where Carter often did his damage out of the pick-and-roll was on pull-up jumpers. He has a respectable mid-range game and can punish teams against drop coverages, which defenses have often deployed against the Lakers. Last season, 35.8 percent of Carter’s field goal attempts were two-point jumpers of which he shot just shy of 40 percent on.
Spot-up shooting – More likely for Carter will be that he’s used as a spot-up shooter next to a ball-dominant player. Carter shot 39.3 percent from beyond the arc last season but only 63.6 percent of those were assisted. Considering players often shoot higher percentages on spot-up shots, one would suspect that percentage could be a bit deflated given his 25 percentage usage percentage last season.
Regardless, Carter projects to be a solid shooter who can find open spaces and knock down long-range jumpers. At the very least, if he’s to have a long career in the league, he’ll need to become a respectable shooter.
As limited as Carter’s offense will be, at the end of the day, his defense is going to be good enough for him to find plenty of time on the court. His one of the smartest defenders to come out of college basketball in some time and has quick hands that leads to many turnovers.
In the Big 12 last season, Carter went against a who’s who of point guards from Trae Young and Devonte Graham to even Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Kentucky in a non-conference match-up.
Motor – As previously stated, Carter is going to give you 100 percent every night. He has a motor that doesn’t stop. He is in great physical condition and when he wasn’t picking up guys full-court, he was playing at the bottom of the 1-3-1 zone, running from corner to corner across the baseline.
The easy comparison for Carter, given what we’ve discussed, is Patrick Beverley. While it’s not an apples to apples comparison offensively – because no comparison ever is – it is a fair comparison for him defensively.
Beverley, like Carter, has a non-stop motor and is a tenacious defender that will pick up guys 94 feet.
In this clip, Carter picks up Young in semi-transition, forces him to pick up his dribble and then swipes the ball away off Young’s leg and out-of-bounds.
Against Gilgeous-Alexander, Carter held the likely future lottery pick to six points, 3-of-7 shooting and forced four turnovers.
Lastly, in maybe his most impressive clip and the one that shows his full range of skills, Carter locks down Graham on back-to-back drives to the basket with the game on the line. He fights through a screen twice, cuts off Graham’s angle, knocks the ball loose then does it again, only this time forcing a contested jumper that is badly missed.
IQ – As we talked about offensively, Carter is an incredibly smart player that can make up for many of his limitations physically by using smart angles and fast hands.
In this clip, Carter is in the bottom left corner where he hides behind a bigger defender, darts out for a near steal, stays in front of the defender and eventually forces a turnover.
As smart as Carter is, he can be caught ball-watching at times off-ball. At times, he also played with too much confidence in his defense, allowing himself to get into poor positions with the idea that he could use his quick hands to get out of it only to have it backfire. Both are correctable mistakes that really come down to concentration levels.
Wingspan – The biggest weakness Carter has defensively is his 6’4.5″ wingspan. Paired with his 6’1″ height, Carter struggles to contest jumpers against taller guards. While he gave effort and often closed out hard on players, NBA-caliber shooters can shoot over Carter. This was especially noticeable when Carter played the low man in the 1-3-1 zone where Carter would race to the corner in a strong closeout, but it would be ineffectual.
If anything, this is what places him so low on draft boards. Physically, he just is too small to be a lead guard unless he turns into an elite shooter or creator. His role on a team will be a backup point guard that can play 20 minutes per game, change the energy of the game and take players out of their comfort zones.
Fit With The Lakers
For reasons stated above, Carter would be a great guard to have next to LeBron James and/or Paul George should the Lakers land either/or. Without them, though, Carter could still have a role on the team with Lonzo Ball seeing plenty of the ball offensively. The fit wouldn’t be as seamless, but it could work.
With Magic Johnson and Rob Pelinka expressing a desire last season for players to give maximum effort night in and night out, Carter is the perfect player in that regard. In fact, he’d often be the type of player who could set the tone for teams. Unlike Tyler Ennis, Isaiah Thomas or Jordan Clarkson in the past, Carter would give the Lakers a hard-nosed defensive guard off the bench as a different option.
That being said, it’s unlikely he is taken with the Lakers’ first-round pick as 25 is awfully high to take a player with Carter’s weaknesses. But should Carter slip to pick 47, he’d be a great player to bring in that would be an instant contributor.