Robert Carter Jr. is one of the most intriguing second round prospects in the 2016 NBA Draft. The junior forward from Maryland checks many of the boxes teams look for when evaluating big men. Despite not having elite height, measuring in at 6-8.5 with shoes at the NBA Draft Combine, Carter makes up for it with his 7-3 wingspan, giving him the necessary length to bother taller players defensively. He weighed in at 251 pounds at the combine which gives him a solid base when banging in the paint.
There are many things to like about Carter even beyond just his physical profile. He moves very fluidly for someone his size which is evident when he’s running in the open floor or defending pick and rolls.
Running the floor for and-1 finish:
Defending the pick and roll, hard hedge and recover, stays big the whole time:
Carter isn’t a great leaper, but he uses his length and body to be a positional rebounder, averaging nearly 11 rebounds per 40 minutes throughout his college career. He does a decent job on the offense glass, and he’s got great touch around the rim to finish putbacks.
Perhaps the aspect of Carter’s game that has scouts the most excited is his jump shot, especially coming out of a pick-and-pop set. Carter has really good shooting mechanics and has always shown good footwork. He does a good job making sure he squares his feet and shoulder to the basket, and he does not rush his shot, which is easy to do as the pop man.
Carter sets a high pick and settles just right of the key for an open three. Good mechanics:
Carter hands off to Melo Trimble, sets the screen, catches the pass and goes right into his shooting motion. He gets his shot off quickly but doesn’t rush it:
It may be the fact that he wears No. 4 and plays in a red jersey, but he looks a lot like Paul Millsap in pick-and-pop sets.
Despite passing the eye test with his shooting mechanics, Carter only shot 33.3 percent from three last season on 78 attempts. That percentage will need to come up 5-6 percent if he hopes to carve out a role in the NBA.
Carter’s offensive game goes beyond just short corner duck-ins and pick-and-pop jumpers. He can make plays when putting the ball on the floor.
Carter is working on North Carolina’s Brice Johnson. He takes one dribble to get in position, and then another to turn middle into a running hook:
Carter brings the ball all the way up the court, makes a hesitation move and finishes:
Carter attacks a weak closeout and needs just one dribble to from the three-point line to the rim:
Carter has a versatile offensive skill set, and that should translate well into the NBA.
Defensively, he provides some rim protection with his size and length, but his team will likely struggle defending the rim if he’s the primary rim protector. He has the physique to defend post-ups and the lateral quickness to defend pick and rolls, though he will likely struggle on switches. Ideally, he can be a drop-back, pick-and-roll defender.
The one major concern with him is conditioning. He never played more than 27 minutes per game in his three seasons in college, and for the role he’ll likely play in the NBA, Carter will need to be able to play as hard as possible in four to five minute increments. Reportedly, he’s been able to cut some body fat during the pre-draft process, and that’s another thing that will be key for him. He’s been as heavy as 280 during his college career, but he needs to stay where he is now, between 240-250.
Carter has the framework of a rotation stretch-four. His NBA longevity will mostly hinge on whether his three-point shooting percentage improves over the next couple of seasons.