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NBA Draft 2018 scouting report: Jevon Carter

An intriguing, and defensively terrifying, guard.

NCAA Basketball: NCAA Tournament-Second Round-West Virginia vs Marshall Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports

In advance of the 2018 NBA Draft, Peachtree Hoops will be breaking down prospects, both from the college ranks and internationally, with an eye toward what the Atlanta Hawks will be evaluating in the coming days. More than 50 prospects will be profiled in this space and, in the end, the goal is to inform Hawks fans prior to June 21, when the Hawks are scheduled to make four selections with the first 34 picks.

Today’s installment centers on West Virginia guard Jevon Carter.

The 2018 NBA Draft is blessed with a number of quality, veteran guards, especially in the late-first, early-second round range. One of those players is former West Virginia lead guard Jevon Carter.

While each guard in this theoretical range brings different strengths to the table, Carter’s bread and butter comes with his aggressiveness and defensive ability. In fact, that was recently summed up beautifully by ESPN analyst Fran Fraschilla, who simply pondered the notion that any NBA hopeful would ever want to work out against Carter in front of a potential employer.

If you’ve seen Carter play, this makes perfect sense. In short, he’s a terrifying defensive force.

That, of course, is the calling card for Carter, who many believe was the best on-ball defender in the country over the last few seasons in Morgantown. At 6’2 and somewhere in the neighborhood of 200 pounds, Carter isn’t necessarily blessed with overwhelming physical traits or projected “switchability” but he is a nasty deterrent to the opposition at every turn.

As a senior, Carter averaged 3.0 steals per game (4.9 percent steal rate) and while that isn’t everything when evaluating point guard defense by any stretch, it is indicative of what he can do. Carter isn’t a freak athlete but he is tenacious, strong and quick enough to stay in front of the opposition and, to put it plainly, he would be an above-average point guard defender at the NBA level immediately, especially if put in position to succeed by his next coaching staff.

Offensively, though, there are more questions and that is what will likely allow him to slip out of the top 20 in late June. That isn’t to say that Carter is without offensive talent, though, but more as an opportunity to slow down from a defensive projection that is off the charts.

The soon-to-be 23-year-old plays with a high basketball IQ on both ends of the floor and he vastly improved his passing (36.2 percent assist rate) during his senior season. Prior to that, there were real questions about Carter as even an NBA backup but, when you pair that newfound vision and ability to deliver passes on time with quality shooting, a role comes into view.

Carter isn’t a player, at least right now, that an NBA team would want initiating a ton of offense in a scoring sense, even after averaging more than 17 points per game at West Virginia. Still, he is an evolving shooter (39.1 percent from three on more than six attempts per game over the last two seasons) and there is no reason he couldn’t function well as a point guard, especially on a team with another lead ball-handler on the wing.

Ideally, Carter would be able to unleash defensively, take on at least a slightly smaller role offensively and knock down open threes at the next level. As with many prospects in this range, situation will be everything for him but it helps that Carter checks a lot of extra boxes. He is a tremendous rebounder for the point guard position and, as noted above, he simply makes a ton of “winning plays” to the point that he would be a coach’s dream on paper.

It remains to be seen as to how NBA scouts and front offices will evaluate Carter, especially because he is on the older side of prospects in this class. Still, he wouldn’t look out of place on an NBA court right now (even in a playoff setting) and any team with a backup point guard need should be evaluating Carter alongside contemporaries like Villanova’s Jalen Brunson, UCLA’s Aaron Holiday and others.

From an Atlanta Hawks perspective, Carter would be a (very) interesting fit at No. 30 or No. 34 and that becomes doubly true in the event that the team lands a primary initiator in the Luka Doncic mold earlier in the draft. Even if that doesn’t happen, the Hawks are likely in need of another point guard option to flank Dennis Schröder and Isaiah Taylor (on a non-guaranteed contract) and Carter’s defensive profile would be a snug fit in Atlanta under any new regime.