TBG Player Preview 2017-18: DeMarre Carroll

demarre carroll
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)
(AP Photo/Rich Pedroncelli)

DeMarre Carroll, Forward 

2016-17: 26.1 MPG, 8.9 PPG, 40.0 FG %, 3.8 RPG, 1.0 APG, 1.1 SPG, .4 BPG, 0.8 TOV, 72 G

Who is DeMarre Carroll?

DeMarre Carroll will be getting a fresh start with the Brooklyn Nets, as the seven-year veteran will be joining his seventh NBA team this upcoming season. Drafted at No. 27 in the 2009-10 NBA Draft by the Memphis Grizzlies, the University of Illinois product has averaged 8.1 points and 3.8 rebounds per game while shooting 40 percent from the field and 34.1 percent from three in his career. 

Early on in his career, Carroll struggled to find the right fit, bouncing around from Houston, Denver and Utah before signing with the Hawks in 2013. Carroll quickly found his niche in Atlanta, excelling as a “3&D” forward. He then started 142 games in two seasons, helping Atlanta to 98 wins, including a 60-win season and the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Current Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson was an assistant on those Hawks teams.

During a Nets Summer League game, Carroll expressed his excitement to be back with his former coach, according to the New York Post

“I’m happy. I’m going back to what I call family. Kenny, I’ve known him since Atlanta, he’s the one who kind of helped my game take the next level in Atlanta, so I’m just happy to get back under his wing.”

Carroll improved all major statistics while in Atlanta. His numbers in points, field goal percentage, rebounds, assists, three-point percentage, steals and blocks all raised while working with Atkinson in Atlanta. Carroll’s stellar defense, combined with an improving three-point shot, made him quite the commodity when he hit free agency in the summer of 2015. 

Career in Toronto

The Raptors ultimately won the 2015 Carroll sweepstakes, signing him to a 4-year, 60-million-dollar deal. However, things did not go exactly as planned for Carroll in Toronto, where a knee injury limited him to only 26 games in his first year with the team. 

Prior to the injury, Carroll had worked well with Toronto, averaging over 11 points and setting career-highs in field goal attempts as well as three-pointers made per game. He also allowed Toronto to play small, where his ability and willingness to switch and guard almost every player on the court was at the time a huge part of Toronto’s defensive game plan.

Raptors All-Star DeMar DeRozan spoke on Carroll’s value after the injury, according to Sports Illustrated.

“It’s hard to replace a guy like DeMarre and what he’s capable of doing out there on the floor on both ends of the floor.”

Despite Carroll being healthy for his second year in Toronto, things were not quite the same as they were pre-injury. Perhaps it was the addition of Serge Ibaka, which kept Carroll from getting valuable minutes at the four, but in 72 games he averaged about nine points with his lowest field goals allowed per game since before Atlanta. 

Carroll may have seen the writing on the wall after the 2016-17 season ended. Kyle Lowry and DeRozan are both ball-dominate All-Stars, while Carroll’s forte is in a motion offense similar to Atlanta. So, in a move that made sense for Carroll, the Raptors and the Nets, Brooklyn traded Justin Hamilton for DeMarre Carroll, along with first and second round 2018 draft picks.

What does Carroll bring to Brooklyn? 

When Brook Lopez was traded to Los Angeles, the Nets were left with a lack of veteran leadership. Enter Carroll, who comes in familiar with the head coach as well as the offensive system. 

Carroll can also add value as a stretch four. Brooklyn currently has a bit of a logjam when it comes to wings and forwards. After adding Allen Crabbe, the Nets have about six or seven players that can be classified as wing/forward, while only four players are classified as “bigs.”

Carroll, similar to Rondae Hollis-Jefferson last season, can offer Atkinson flexibility, whether he chooses to start Carroll at power forward, or rather wait for crucial minutes to deploy a small ball lineup. For example, Brooklyn may choose to go ultra-small in crunch time. A lineup featuring Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell, Crabbe, Carroll and RHJ would be able to score while having multiple players that can guard multiple positions.

Imagine the Nets having both Carroll and RHJ on the court together. Both players will be able to switch on every pass all the while crashing the glass on each shot. Carroll seemingly can be the presence RHJ needs to bring his game to another level, forcing him to work harder on hustle plays in practice and showing the effort it takes to develop consistent shooting.

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Bottom Line

This was your classic low risk-high reward type move for Sean Marks; the risk is tying up cap space in the upcoming stacked free agent class in 2018, although most big name free agents won’t be clamoring to come to Brooklyn even if the team snags the No. 8 seed.

Carroll, if healthy, can be a huge asset to Brooklyn’s continuing culture build and will help Brooklyn improve on its No. 26-ranked three-point shooting percentage last season. If Carroll reverts back to form under Atkinson, he may well become a valuable trade come 2019.  

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