Vernon Carey left Duke as the most productive freshman on a per-minute basis, dominating the interior on the offensive end as well as being an excellent rebounder. In 25 minutes per game, his numbers are nice, but don’t jump out when you ignore minutes and touches. Per 40 minutes, he averaged 28.6 PPG, 14 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.1 SPG, and 2.5 BPG on splits of 58/38/67. Here’s how those numbers came to be:
Height/Weight: 6’10/ 270
Wingspan/ standing reach: N/A until NBA Draft Combine
Hand size: N/A
College/ country: Duke
Tools: Post scoring, frame, rebounding
- Good size + frame with NBA level strength
- Good low post touch with both hands
- Good vision
- Excellent in P&R offensively
- Great rebounder
- Questionable jump shot form
- Subpar lateral quickness
- Poor in P&R defensively
- Slow to help on drives
- Must improve ball security
- Rim protection decision making
Overall: Carey projects as more of a traditional big, getting lots of post touches and operating within 15 feet. Carey, however, is not limited to just the paint, shooting one 3 point attempt per game, almost exclusively as a spot up shooter on the wings and corners. His hottest spot on the court will almost always be within 5 feet of the basket, but he will be able to drag rim protectors away from the basket by standing out on the corners. Beyond scoring, Carey has appeal offensively in both playmaking and putting the ball on the floor. Asked to be a perimeter big throughout high school, Carey displayed the ability to put the ball on the floor and iso his defender to the basket from the 3 point line. Carey sees the floor well and uses his perimeter skills to thrive with the ball in his hands, making good use of his high school guard skills. Carey likely presents the most issues for opposing defenses as a pick & roll threat, ranking in the 78th percentile as a pick & roll finisher at Duke, according to Synergy.
Defensively, Carey leaves a lot to be desired. Too many times his lack of footspeed hurts him in the pick & roll in either adjusting to switches to a ball-handler or defending the aerial threat. On top of his physical limitations, Carey often underwhelms as a decision maker at the rim. Instead of using his size to his advantage over collegiate players by putting his hands up or going vertical, Carey often went for drawing charges under the rim. Luckily, I see this as an easy area of improvement, as this will be fixed with NBA practice reps and simple coaching.
One final area that Carey excels in is cleaning the glass, where he uses his strong 270 pound frame to effectively box out his matchup. Carey has a good chance of being one of the top rebounders on a per minute basis for years to come, especially if he plays in asimilar limited minutes role as he did at Duke. Whichever team drafts Carey must first address his defensive tendencies to get the most out of him as an NBA player.
NBA Comparison: Floor: Alan Williams; ceiling: Jonas Valanciunas
Projected draft range: 35-55
Fit With Mavs:
Normally, I would not classify a post-oriented big man as a good fit with the Mavericks, but his play style is almost irrelevant as to why I think he fits with Dallas. Rick Carlisle has always been a fan of limited minutes big men that can produce in spurts with an efficient hot-spot. As shown above, Carey has just that: elite per-minute production, especially for a freshman, who has an impeccable ability to finish at the rim with either hand. While he is a massive liability on the defensive end, with the right lineups, Carey can be hidden. Carey won’t be playing against many starting units, so he can play more of his post-up style that also allows him to see the court so well. The hope with Carey would be to have him play similar minutes to Boban Marjanovic and have the same role offensively. Given Marjanovic’s production, it’s hard to see a more skilled Carey fail in a similar role. Unfortunately for Dallas, picking Carey in the first round or at 31 in the second are both reaches. Dallas would likely have to buy a pick in the mid-second round to grab Carey. With post-minded big men becoming a dying breed, it’s hard to see his value much higher than an early second round pick.