While attending Duke, Wendell Carter Jr. took an acting class. “It allows you to get outside yourself,” Carter told ESPN Staff Writer David Hale. “Play a different character. I don’t have to be Wendell. I can be someone else.”
That may come as a relief to the many Bulls fans disappointed with him being selected by their favorite team. Hmm, maybe he can do his best Luka Doncic impression? Marvin Bagley? Mo Bamba? Pretty sure many in Chicago would take any of the three.
I’m here to speak on a sobering reality. Carter is going to be Carter. He won’t turn into Michael Porter Jr. Not Trae Young. Wendell. Carter. Jr.
Hate Gar Forman and John Paxson all you want and be pissed that the Bulls won ten games in a twelve-game stretch in December. Just don’t immediately give up on the 6’10”, 259 lb. Carter and what he could look like next to Lauri Markkanen.
“Whatever system I come into, I automatically buy in,” Carter Jr. said in a pre-draft interview with The Athletic’s Darnell Mayberry. “The coaches just want to win, and I want to win too. So whatever they ask me to do, if it’s just rebounding and blocking shots and setting good picks, I’m willing to do that just to win.”
I like that last part, and not just the ‘willing to do that just to win.’ He’s a rebounder and shot-blocker first, and a shooter second. The Bulls currently feature pieces like Zach LaVine and Kris Dunn — two players who need to have the ball in their hands to be effective. He’s going to be coming over from a Duke Blue Devils team where, as has been widely publicized, he played second-fiddle to Bagley Jr.
That’s good because, as everyone knows, Carter is coming to Chicago where he will again be playing second fiddle to Cam Payne and Paul Zipser.
In case you’re new here, that was sarcasm.
Before I get into a couple things Carter Jr. does well, one thing he’s going to have to work on: decision-making. Take a look at his shots from the 1:00 – 1:22 in the below video:
I’ve got bad news for you, Wendell. You’re not going to see Evansville much in the NBA which means quicker decisions will need to be made. Hesitation doesn’t work as well when you have a 6’8″ forward closing on you as opposed to a 6’1″ guard…or nobody at all.
Now…when Carter does make the decision to shoot, you can see the obvious offensive potential he could bring to Chicago. He can stroke it from beyond the arc (though he took just 42 three-point attempts last season, he ended with a .413 conversion clip) which if you want to carve out a name in the NBA and your height exceeds 6’7″ you better at least pretend you can shoot the long ball.
Something else to be excited about? Carter’s ability to play down in the post. He looked more comfortable than just about any player in the NCAA in backing down defenders (albeit most were undersized) and scoring the basketball.
I’m being told we don’t do that anymore in the NBA, I’m sorry.
One more note on the video I attached above: please check out the 3:09 mark as Carter Jr. ended a Miami player’s college basketball career in one play. I’m not joking, if I’m that player and I watch Carter not just block me, but also come down with the ball, I’m walking off the court. I don’t want, I NEED that level of disrespectful shot-blocking from Wendell once he’s inside the U.C.
So let’s see, the kid can shoot, space the floor, anchor the center of a defense like Lauri can’t…we’re definitely bored with him because his name’s Wendell. It doesn’t roll off the tongue in a fun way like BAGLEY, DONCIC, JAREN JACKSON JR.
From a name-perspective, Wendell is high-floor, low-ceiling.
In all seriousness, I wasn’t initially excited about the Bulls taking the Duke big man at No. 7. I don’t believe he’s a guy that will wow night in, night out, but his fit in Chicago is obvious.
We’ll be alright. Still hate you though, GarPax, and maybe think about a new first name, Wendell.