With the seventh pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the Chicago Bulls selected Duke freshman, Wendell Carter Jr. This pick was perceived as the “safe” pick, a non-flashy center who has all the tools to be good in the NBA.
Unlike many of his rookie mates, he didn’t have nearly as much excitement built around him as they did.
Wendell Carter averaged 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds, and 2 assists per game in his lone season at Duke. During his time at Duke, he was the least used prospect and in my opinion least appreciated. Surrounded by teammates like Grayson Allen, Gary Trent Jr, and Marvin Bagley, Wendell sacrificed any personal goals he had and played entirely for his team.
Most say without Marvin Bagley alongside him in the frontcourt, Carter would’ve easily have been a 20 and 10 guy.
No, we’ve transitioned to the NBA, where most rookies have to realize that they’re not the best players anymore and have to set aside personal goals to reach the ultimate goal.
Luckily for Bulls fans, Carter already has mastered that.
What I’ve seen from Carter so far this season is a highly intellectual defensive player with an NBA ready body. Having all the tools and physical attributes to become a threat to opposing defenses, while also possessing play-making abilities that resemble Al Horford.
An absolute beast!
His current averages are 11.9 points per game, 7.9 rebounds. and 2.3 assists. He leads the Bulls and rookies with 2.1 blocks per game.
Now, remember, the Bulls ranked 30th in the league in blocks per game, so that stat alone will give the rookie consistent minutes.
A specific play that stood out to me tremendously on the defensive end was against the Cleveland Cavaliers. Wendell was on the verge of getting a three-second violation. He saw the opponent driving into the lane for a quick shot and instinctively moved away to tag Tristian Thompson, which ultimately reset his three seconds, and quickly slid back to block the shot.
The kid already plays like a veteran.
Starting off the season, Wendell looked very passive and it seemed like he tried too hard to be a team player. With the Bulls injuries and lack of depth, he was required to be a more assertive player and show the world why he was a lottery pick.
Not to say that he didn’t have good games before, but the game I call his “coming out game” was against the Denver Nuggets. He put together a performance of 25 points, 8 rebounds, and 5 assists while causing havoc on the defensive end.
A complete showing of what he contains in his arsenal.
This game followed the Golden State Warriors massacre. In which, garbage time gave the rookie the confidence he needed to be successful.
This is why growing pains are good for young teams(even if it was a complete disgrace and embarrassment).
Nonetheless, he’s maturing extremely fast and accepting his role. Maybe, Like last season, these injuries are a blessing in disguise because it’s giving very young players a chance that they may have not received prior.
Hoiberg has cleverly created schemes that isolate LaVine and Carter to freely run the pick and roll or give and go, while also leaving the weak side occupied with screens so that help defense is a nonfactor.
Carter has been aggressively inserted into offensive plays in the past two weeks and the pairing of him up next to Lauri Markannen is going to be so fun to watch.
Rookie of The Year may be out of reach, But the Chicago Bulls got a very solid player for years to come.
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