DeMarre Carroll was a player in college at Mizzou. He was a legitimate college franchise guy; they built a team around him and he carried them into the tourney.
Nobody expected that kind of play out of him in Memphis, or anywhere in the NBA for that matter. DeMarre is a perfect example of the college tweener. He plays and works his ass off to make the best use of relatively limited natural abilities, but hard work isn't enough to make you a star in the NBA.
Even a guy like Gerald Wallace, who is admittedly limited in the more skill-centric facets of the game, has to go harder than anyone else in the league to make his incredible natural abilities work like they should. DeMarre Carroll has nowhere near the physical abilities of Wallace, but the working-man spirit is the same.
Now if you're going to evaluate a hustle player, where do you look? Rebounds and steals are traditionally known as "hustle stats." I personally don't believe that for a second, Carlos Boozer grabs mad boards but he's not exactly know for his dedication to the game. And steals are a tough read on this Grizzlies team; because the overall defense is tremendously poor, there are less tipped passes out there to get down and dirty chasing.
Still lets take a brief look at turnovers. It's alright to be fearful of small sample size, I suppose, but with DeMarre on the court the Grizzlies draw just as many turnovers as they do without him on the court. This probably means that Carroll is forcing some extra turnovers while replacing Zach Randolph, while being a little less disruptive on defense than Rudy Gay.
This point brings us rather quickly into the fact that DeMarre is being played out of position when filling in for Rudy. DeMarre cannot play small forward, he is only suitable as a power forward. Using 82games.com again today, it becomes obvious pretty quickly that Carroll is pretty horrendous at the small forward spot, with a PER of only .6 while playing almost 40% of his minutes there.
And that revelation makes DeMarre Carroll's role with the team going forward a little bit ambiguous. Darrell Arthur is a better NBA player than Carroll, and should be the Grizzlies backup power forward. That means Carroll's minutes are going to dry up in a month or two, unless the Grizzlies want to suffer him trying to figure out how to play tons of extremely inefficient minutes while out of position.
Moving back to his time so far, DeMarre has been a more than adequate sub. Data shows that the Grizzlies only play about 2 points per 100 possessions worse with him in, which isn't bad for a rookie substitute and a second rounder in most drafts. But would I rather have DeJuan Blair? Yes.
That's not to say DeMarre isn't putting in his work. To move away from the statistics, it's clear that he's giving it all out there. He brings lots of energy, but doesn't have the skill yet to become an impact player. Other teams happily allow the Grizzlies to run catch-and-shoot plays for him, and his driving layup is ugly, though he's willing to jump into a brick wall if it means getting to the line.
Twenty games in, DeMarre Carroll has given the Memphis Grizzlies everything they could have expected. He hasn't impressed, but he hasn't underwhelmed either. Carroll gets in, plays hard enough to make up for most of the skill gap, and happily takes the bruises that come with being the working-man.