School: Arizona State
Height/Weight: 5'11", 180 lbs
Age: 21 years old
Projected NBA Position: Point Guard
NBA Comparison: Nate Robinson
Twitter Handle: @JahiiCarson
Jahii Carson's NBA value might not be as shiny as it was when he started his sophomore year at Arizona State, but he's still an explosive playmaker who will give his squad a burst off the bench.
Although he's undersized, his blistering quickness helps him blow by defenders and get into the lane at will. That's what drove his pro appeal during college, as scouts and executives saw the potential to create offense against anyone.
While his lightning speed is his greatest forte, his improvement as a shooter and passer will determine exactly what his role will be.
If he learns how to create consistently for his teammates while remaining a scoring threat, we could be looking at the NBA's next exciting underdog point guard.
|Statistics at Arizona State|
He's going to be looking up at his opponents during nearly every matchup, as he's 5'11" with shoes on.
Fortunately, the rest of his physical attributes are phenomenal, and they help compensate for his diminutive frame. Carson packs a strong 180 pounds into his short stature, and his athleticism is outstanding.
He showed off his vertical bounce with a 43.5" vertical at the NBA Draft Combine, and he can stop and spring skyward on a dime for jumpers and floaters in the lane.
And lastly, but most importantly, his speed will serve as a dangerous asset. Carson's first step is blinding, and his acceleration will help him compete at both ends of the floor.
When Carson is surveying the floor out on the perimeter, leisurely swaying with the ball, he's simply looking for the right nanosecond to blow by his man and get into the lane.
Sometimes, he doesn't even need a crossover dribble or a hesitation move to get past defenders. He just bolts by them with a right or left-handed dribble. And when he does resort to a ball-handling move, the results are even more devastating for opponents.
With his speed and tight handles, he can dart sharply through tight windows and break down defenses by accessing the paint. It's often a near-impossible task for foes to stay in front of him.
Creativity and Playmaking
Once he arrives in the paint, he's not always the greatest scorer at the rim. But he's got the athleticism to challenge opponents, an improved mid-range floater and passing skills.
Carson's ability to break down defenses often forces them to overcommit from the help side, and he makes them pay with kick-out passes or dump-offs to the big men.
In addition, NBA sources told Doug Haller of the Arizona Republic that Carson looked impressive as a pocket passer in pick-and-roll situations.
If he can cut down on the sloppy plays and maximize his pick-and-roll speed, he could become a productive passer worth keeping on the floor for extended stretches.
Haller also reported that "Carson surprised teams during workouts with his perimeter shooting."
Judging by these reports and available video, it looks like he'll be at least a respectable outside shooter in the NBA.
He improved his three-point percentage from 32 to 39 percent in 2013-14, and he's become more adept at sinking mid-range step-backs and spot-up triples. This upgraded perimeter prowess will help keep defenses honest and make his driving speed all the more potent.
Aside from his short stature, which will limit his defensive potential and ability to finish plays, Carson draws a couple key concerns.
Can he play an efficient style at point guard? He averaged 4.0 turnovers per 40 minutes as a sophomore, turning in a poor assist-to-turnover ratio of 1.3. Carson often made ill-advised passes or forced up shots, so he needs to become a better decision-maker moving forward.
On the defensive end, he must make a concerted effort to play hard and focus the entire time (something he failed to do in college). Due to his size disadvantage, he's going to have to be a speedy, energetic pest who constantly pressures opposing ball-handlers.
That's asking a lot, but that's what it will take for him to consistently make an impact.
Oftentimes, undersized point guards can make surprisingly productive debuts in the league, putting opponents on their heels and making explosive plays.
Carson could have a somewhat similar start to his career, but only if he shoots the ball well enough to warrant minutes. Otherwise, he'll just be a spark-off-the-bench type of player.
As he learns how to truly break down NBA defenses and generate versatile offense off the dribble, Carson could become more than an energy guy.
He will gradually maximize his athleticism to draw fouls and get to the free-throw line, and it looks like his outside shot is accurate enough for him to put points on the board every night.
If he comes close to his ceiling on both ends of the floor, he could grow into a prominent role, perhaps as a sixth man. When he steps on the floor, he could change the complexion of the contest and give his club a mid-game boost.