Wendell Carter Jr. wants to have prompt impact in NBA; could it be with Bulls?
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Wendell Carter Jr. is looking to make a name for himself in the NBA.
By some measures, he flew under the radar with Duke this past season, often unnoticed in the shadows of players such as Marvin Bagley III and Grayson Allen. However, he still managed to average 13.5 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.1 blocks per game while shooting 41.3 percent from beyond the three-point line.
Carter, 19, who’s a towering 6-10, 260 pounds, made it clear Thursday during his media session at the NBA combine that he’s a team player and willing to adjust to whatever system he’s placed in. That’s key for many players, not just Carter, especially with there being few true centers in the NBA nowadays. Carter is positioning himself as more of a position-less player.
“[Teams] want somebody that’s versatile that can shoot from the outside, can guard the perimeter,” he said. “So that’s something I’ve been working on throughout this draft process. I definitely buy into [the idea of being able to guard multiple positions]. I’m a competitor, especially on the defensive end. I think I’ve showed most of what I can do.”
Growing up, Carter idolized LeBron James. But later, he started looking up to players he could model his game after, such as five-time All-Star Al Horford.
During the combine this week, Carter’s skills were compared to those of a young Horford. Carter hasn’t met Horford yet but plans to — though Horford is a tad busy right now with the Celtics, who hold a 2-0 lead over James’ Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.
With the health of Missouri forward Michael Porter Jr. still in question, the Bulls could benefit from a conservative draft pick by selecting Carter at No. 7 overall. Carter, who was born in Atlanta, embodies the versatility the Bulls are looking for. He’s a playmaker and floor spacer and plays a smart game.
“I just come in and do every day what they ask me to do,” he said. “I think I’m pretty versatile as a player. I just find a way to fit into a team, bind to the system. And I’m a winner. I’ll do what I have to do to win.”
Carter could be a good compliment to Lauri Markkanen in the frontcourt. Between Markkanen’s outside game and Carter’s inside game, the two could be extremely difficult to defend.
Carter respects Markkanen’s game and thinks the two could have solid chemistry.
“[He’s a] great player,” Carter said. “I was just thinking him and me together playing on the court would be — it’d be definitely a killer.”
Carter said he met with the Bulls — and several other teams — this week. He believes his interview went well.
“We talked about some good stuff,” he said. “It was very relaxed — not so much business-like, more getting to know one another, and I really enjoyed it.”
Carter, who was a “one-and-done” college player but plans to finish getting his degree, believes he’s not only ready to play at the NBA level but make an immediate impact.
“Whatever system I come into, I automatically buy in,” Carter said. “Coaches just want to win, and I want to win, too.”