He was one of the steadiest prospects all season—a constant for a loaded Duke team that had a lot of mouths to feed. Efficient and productive with standout physical tools, Carter jumps out as one of the draft's safest options, but also one with sneaky upside for his potential to showcase perimeter skills he didn't have the chance to use in college.
Weight: 251 pounds
Wingspan: 7'4 ½"
Pro-player comparison: Derrick Favors/Al Horford
Carter works mostly in the post (32.0 percent), and though his .753 PPP weren't impressive, he demonstrated refined footwork and moves, and he didn't have great spacing to work with, often playing alongside Marvin Bagley III and Marques Bolden. Carter used the offensive glass for scoring opportunities, ranking in the 94th percentile on putbacks, using his power, length and instincts. He shot 67.9 percent at the rim and converted eight of 11 pick-and-rolls. Carter also flashed promising shooting touch, having made 19 of 46 three-point attempts and 73.8 percent of his free throws. Lastly, his passing IQ was a notable strength.
Considered more of an old-school big for his back-to-the-basket play, Carter rarely faces up to put the ball on the floor and attack. He lived on the block, but he only ranked in the 38th percentile on post-ups. He didn't record a field goal out of isolation all season, and he finished with just one drive for a basket out of spot-ups. From outside, he shot well percentage-wise, but the sample size was small, and some misses were not close.
Carter blocked 3.1 shots per 40 minutes and showed strong timing as a help rim protector. He has a body to hold his own in the post. However, he is not overly quick laterally. Carter doesn't project as a nimble perimeter defender, and therefore may not be suited to play or guard the power forward position.
Carter is physically ready for NBA minutes. He'll be valued most early for his presence around the basket and under the boards. But there is a good chance we find out he can also help stretch the floor. Carter may not receive featured touches in the post right away. And without much bounce or explosiveness, his field-goal percentage will drop moving from college to the pros. Defense could also take time. He's a better fit for the second-team All-Rookie than the first team.
Projected role: Quality starter
Carter's game doesn't scream upside. He lacks high-level athleticism and shot-creating skills, and his defensive ceiling may be limited. But he has the chance to be excellent in each of the specific boxes he checks: post play, rebounding and shooting. Proving he can adjust and improve defensively would take his value to a new height. Carter will ultimately want to follow in Horford's footsteps as a heavier-footed big who compensates with skill and basketball IQ.