The Chicago Bulls solidified their frontcourt of the future last summer when they took Duke big man Wendell Carter Jr. with the seventh overall pick of the NBA Draft.
Carter joined Lauri Markkanen in the Bulls’ frontcourt, giving Chicago one of the most impressive young pairings up front in the league.
The 20-year-old went on to enjoy a nice, albeit abbreviated, rookie campaign, averaging 10.3 points, 7.0 rebounds and 1.3 blocks over 25.2 minutes per game while shooting 48.5 percent from the floor, 18.8 percent from 3-point range and 79.5 percent from the free-throw line through 44 games (his season ended prematurely due to a thumb injury).
While Wendell Carter Jr. certainly showed flashes of his potential, there are certainly some improvements he needs to make, as his numbers alone might indicate.
3. Staying out of Foul Trouble
Carter is known as a very good defensive prospect and certainly showed signs of that during his rookie season, but one area in which Carter struggled was avoiding foul trouble, as he committed 4.9 fouls per 36 minutes during his first year in the league.
This is very normal for a rookie, especially considering that Carter was 19 years old all season (he turned 20 in mid-April). Over the summer, Carter needs to work on defending without fouling, which means going straight up to contest shots, not swiping and defending with his body rather than his arms.
Given that Carter has a great motor and terrific defensive instincts, it’s hard to imagine him not improving in this area. Just imagine how outstanding of a rim protector Carter will become once he learns to contest shots without making contact.
2. Improve his Free-Throw Rate
Carter got to the free-throw line just 2.5 times per game during his rookie campaign, and while he is not exactly known for his offensive prowess as it is, it would be nice to see him bump that number during his second season.
The good thing about Carter is that he is already 255 pounds and has outstanding strength for a kid, so he isn’t getting pushed around all that much by bigger centers and has the ability to absorb contact.
Based on that, Carter needs to work on using his strength and his body to draw fouls and get to the line, which might end up being one of his primary methods of scoring.
Carter will likely never be what his collegiate teammate, Marvin Bagley III, is on the offensive end of the floor, but there is no reason he can’t at least be passable as a scorer.
1. Expand his Range
Carter attempted 32 three-pointers during his rookie campaign, making just six of them.
There are some things to like about Carter in this category, though, and there is some reason to believe he can get much better from downtown.
First and foremost, Carter made 19 of his 46 triples during his lone season at Duke, an indication that he is not a complete waste from the perimeter and can, in fact, knock down some long jumpers.
In addition, Carter does not have bad shooting form, and he actually made 79.5 percent of his free throws in his first NBA season, an incredibly impressive mark for a rookie big man.
Carter is also reaping the benefit of playing alongside of a floor-spacing big in Markkanen, so there is a lot less pressure on Carter for rapid development in this area.
As long as Wendell Carter Jr. stays the course and works hard, he should become at least a moderate threat from the perimeter as he gets more experienced.