One of the biggest storylines coming in to this season is the rookie class that the Grizzlies brought in. Of course, there is hopeful superstar Jaren Jackson Jr., but the other rookie that could have a major impact as well is Jevon Carter.
With the 32nd overall pick in this year the Memphis Grizzlies selected Carter, a guard from West Virginia. Jevon Carter embodies everything about the “Grit and Grind” culture that the greatest era in Memphis Grizzlies basketball was born from. He is a defense-first guard who can defend any player in a team’s backcourt.
At 23 years old, he is an older rookie in this class, however, with age brings experience. Carter has the basketball IQ and awareness to be thrown in the fire right away and play solid minutes when the Grizzlies need them the most. He is capable of holding his own on the defensive side of the ball and will probably be matched up on the other side’s better player.
As a second-round selection, expectations will be tempered a bit. This will be a good thing, as the spotlight will not be on Carter right out of the gate. He can play his tough, hard-nosed style of basketball and quickly gain the respect from the Memphis crowd. Jevon Carter will soon turn into a fan favorite that gets FedExForum rocking.
2017-2018 (College) Season In Review
Carter was a four-year player at West Virginia who paved his own way getting all the way to being drafted in the NBA Draft. Coming out of high school, he was a three-star talent who committed back in 2014. From there, he worked his way to becoming a starter for his sophomore through senior years.
His senior season was his best season statistically. He averaged 17.3 points and 6.6 assists per game in 34.7 minutes on the offensive side of the court. Defensively, he was even better locking down whoever was across from him. Carter won the NABC Defensive Player of the Year and was 2nd Team Consensus All-American.
Currently, the Grizzlies have Carter listed as the third point guard on the 2018-19 depth chart behind Mike Conley and Shelvin Mack. I would imagine that this ranking would change depending on the situation they are in. To begin the season, Mack will have the NBA experience to keep the backup job. At 28 years old, he has played on enough teams to know how to run an offense.
However, after a few good showings off the bench from Carter, I could see this role change for Carter to become backup behind Conley. Even as Mack is defensive minded at times, Carter brings the lockdown ability that easily come off the bench in situations that call for it.
While the shooting guard situation continues to be a hole in the Grizzlies lineup, I would love to see Carter next to Conley in different variations this season. Carter is by no means a knockdown shooter, however, it would be a great combination of offense/defense with Conley on the court with him at the same time. Because of Carter’s defense, lineup possibilities are endless.
Best Case Scenario
The best possible outcome for Jevon Carter is a huge defensive impact in the first few months of the season. After that, he will gain some NBA confidence, pick up some Memphis support, and be able to hold his own in the league quickly. If this happens, his role on this team will expand quickly. As mentioned, I could see Carter taking that backup point guard role away from Mack early if his success is instant.
Above all else, the most important thing is that he develops for the long term. Next season could be great if he learns the league quicker than expected, but it would be the best-case scenario for the Grizzlies’ franchise if he looks ready to build on for the future. Jackson and Carter, along with Brooks from last year, could be the foundation to a post Mike and Marc era. That is the stability the Grizzlies really need.
Worst Case Scenario
The worst possible outcome is that he never learns the way of the league. There is a chance Carter is not big enough at 6’2” to guard multiple positions. If he comes in undersized, teams may pick on him in pick and rolls or switches on the perimeter. This will be hinted at early on if this will be a problem.
As we have seen many times before, the league isn’t for everyone and that is especially true in more second round talent. Carter did not go in the first round and there is a reason for that. However, even as this is worst case scenario, all of this is still a huge question mark. It is better to speak in hypotheticals than to have bad history to base a worst possibility off of. For Carter, we will have to see where he lands on this spectrum.
At the end of the day, Carter is a grinder. He is going to put in the work to be the best basketball player he can be. Carter gives his all 24/7, and it translates on the court. If he can adapt to the style of the NBA this will be great for the Grizzlies. The franchise may have hit with another second-round selection.
Even as his size could be a concern in the NBA, the dude is all defense, all the time. Realistically, the Grizzlies will use this aspect of his game to the highest potential throwing him in to lockdown a star on the other team. This is what Carter will have to expect even as a rookie.
If he can take on this challenge, Carter will have a long and successful career in the NBA. Every team is looking for the defense first guard who can stop the dynamic scorer on the other side.
The Grizzlies may have found this guy in Jevon Carter.