It's hard to believe, but Jevon Carter's first summer as a professional basketball player is already over. Summer League has become an increasingly important part of the NBA preseason process over the past few years, giving coaches and fans alike a first look at their shiny new draft picks, and since I watched at least part of all of JC's games, I figured I'd report back on what I saw.
What I Liked
When you consider that it was barely three months ago that JC was still lacing them up for the Old Gold and Blue, it's understandable that his game hasn't really evolved all that much yet. What's interesting about Summer League, though, is seeing if those familiar skills translate to the NBA game. I'm happy to report that for the most part, they do. Jevon was still a major league pain in the ass for everybody he was matched up with defensively, starting with Trae Young (who he again hilariously frustrated the hell out of) on July 2nd and ending with Portland standout Wade Baldwin on Monday night. He recorded 1.1 steals in his 22 minutes per game, and was even able to draw a handful of offensive fouls as opponents became agitated by his persistence.
Jevon also flashed some potential as a scorer and creator, dropping 19 points, 8 rebounds, and 8 assists against the Thunder on July 12th before following it up two days later with 26 points, 8 rebounds, and 6 assists against the Jazz. Overall he averaged just 11.4 points per game due to some inconsistent shooting, but the above box scores should assuage any concerns about Jevon's ability to get and create buckets at the next level.
Arguably the biggest positive for Jevon going forward though might've been his connection with fellow 2018 draftee Jaren Jackson Jr. The two seemed to have an immediate understanding and were consistently able to create good looks out of pick and roll situations. It'll be interesting to see how their relationship continues to develop, but objectively it's never a bad thing to be on good terms with the future of the franchise.
What I Didn't Like
As I mentioned above, just three months on Jevon is obviously still very much the guy we knew for four years in Morgantown. That's great in a lot of ways, but it also means that his college shortcomings are still very much his NBA shortcomings - his shot and decision making were still a bit inconsistent, his handle was still a little loose in traffic, and he still tried to do too much at times. While the same could probably be said about 90% of the young guards in the League, Jevon especially needs to improve in those areas if he ever wants to be anything beyond a role player.
The good news here is that at least some of the improvements he needs to make should come naturally. As the game slows down he'll start to make better decisions with the basketball, and a reduced regular season role should lead to better shot selection and ultimately better efficiency. The bad news, though, is that no matter how hard I try to excuse them, Carter’s 36/23/75 shooting splits over the last few weeks are simply nowhere near good enough. I understand that we’re dealing with a limited sample size here, but all of those numbers should ideally be about 10 points higher for somebody who wants to play meaningful minutes.
The fact that the Grizz have already inked our guy to a multi-year deal should tell you everything you need to know. Jevon definitely has some things to work on (shot, handle, decision making) if he wants to play big minutes, but he also showed more than enough over the past few weeks to convince me, and more importantly, his organization, that he's an NBA player. I think we can safely look forward to watching him in the League for a long time to come.