2018 Pick Number 8 – Wendell Carter Jr.
Height – 6’10”
Weight –250 lbs
Age – 19 years and 2 months
Wingspan – 7’3”
Position – Power Forward / Center
Strengths – Strong on posts. Runs well. Willing rebounder.
Weaknesses – May be stuck as an NBA 5 due to lack of foot speed.
NBA comparison – Al Horford
We all love those big men from Duke, don’t we? Wendell Carter Jr. is mocked right around the middle of the lottery by most NBA and college experts, and I personally do not see him falling past the Cleveland Cavaliers at eight. Sure, there are some other interesting options, but Carter Jr.’s value at this pick is undeniable.
Carter Jr. has more of a throw-back style to his game with slightly amped up athleticism. He is no dinosaur, as many people called Jahlil Okafor. He runs well and jumps well, and he just turned 19 year old in April. Right now, he’s 250 lbs. and he will certainly put on size as he grows into his adult, 6’10” body.
Why it makes sense for Cleveland
Although the eighth pick in the draft is a big deal, the Cavaliers have some more important decisions to make (or people to persuade). If LeBron James does end up leaving the Cavs, do not be surprised to see the team enter a full rebuild with Wendell Carter Jr. as a centerpiece, no pun intended.
Now, let’s say they try to remain competitive in the eastern conference. Carter Jr. fits nicely with Kevin Love. While Carter Jr. is a strong player on the glass (like Love) and in the offensive low post, Love will be able to stretch the floor to the three-point stripe. Tristan Thompson does not possess the skill that Carter displays on offense, which would create more questions regarding the currently-constructed roster.
As stated in the player comparison, Wendell Carter’s game is very similar to Al Hereford’s. Like Big Al, Carter can stretch his game to the three-point line, although his bread and butter is in the post. In today’s NBA, extending your range is a massive weapon, and Cleveland would have a duel threat in Wendell Carter Jr. (on the defensive end as well).
In his lone season at Duke, Wendell Carter Jr. averaged 13.5 points per game, along with 9.1 rebounds in 26.8 minutes. He shot the ball 56.1 percent from the field and an impressive 41.3 percent from three, which exemplifies his ability (like Al Horford) to stretch the floor when need be.
His 28.2 PER in his freshman season at Duke was largely due to his efficient play, highlighted by his 62.8 true shooting percentage. He is an average free throw shooter, finishing his 37 games in Durham at 73.8 percent from the foul line.
His biggest weapon is the fact that he keeps defenses guessing. He can pull up and knock down a jumper, or he can put his shoulder down and muscle his way to the rim. As he grows older and learns the tricks of the NBA, he’ll also get stronger and use his size to his advantage (although only 6’10”), which will make him a dynamic force on offense.
At Duke, Carter Jr. averaged 2.1 blocks in just under 27 minutes, which calculates to 2.8 blocks per 36 minutes. His ability to jump and time shots will always keep his name towards the top of the blocked shots category.
The biggest downside to his defensive game is dealing with guys (ironically) like himself. He is strong on the defensive post, but he will struggle staying in front of guys, due to his lack of lateral quickness.
Picture a player pump-faking, taking a jab-step, then bursting with a first step towards the baseline for a reverse lay-in. Carter Jr. will need to prove us that he’ll be able to keep his body in front of moves like that.
The Cleveland Cavaliers’ future is as uncertain as any team heading into a offseason in recent memory. We don’t run into many LeBron James-like talents, so when rumors of him leaving to play for another city is all you’re hearing, it raises questions and concerns.
For the Cavs, they can not sit and wait, and with that said, they’ll need to stockpile their roster with steady talent, able to contribute on both ends of the floor, while growing with the team. Wendell Carter Jr. is a good start. He will need veteran guidance early on, but as he grows, he may have the keys to the franchise post-LeBron.