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 33 picks.
Today’s installment centers on Penn State guard Tony Carr.
Penn State’s Tony Carr was awarded the first team All-Big Ten point guard spot after taking a massive step forward shooting the ball from beyond the three point line from his freshman season to his sophomore season. After shooting just 32 percent on 103 attempts last season, Carr shot 43 percent this season on almost double the number of attempts. Those results gave him the confidence to enter the 2018 draft and forgo any remaining college eligibility.
It will be interesting to see how the evaluations go because he does not play like a traditional point guard. Perhaps the shot and his decent size will allow teams to value what he might be able to offer playing mostly off of the ball.
Despite having an impressive 3.5-to-1 assist to turnover ratio, Carr does not really do much to create good looks for his teammates. He is most comfortable taking smaller guards into the post and operating there primarily as a scoring threat. He is pretty secure with the basketball but a lot of those assists come on simple kick out passes or easy passes in transition.
Carr is not a dynamic athlete, though he did grow two inches from his freshman to his sophomore season, so it could just be a result of his getting used to his new length. He is listed at 6’5 and 205 pounds with a wingspan of 6’8. It’s not ideal size to play at the wing position at the NBA level but smaller players have proven to be able to do it.
Despite his relative lack of quickness, Carr’s footwork is good enough to make him an effective step back shooter that gets solid separation from his defender. It seems a little surprising that he was allowed to operate as often as he did in the post when you see that he was a sub-40 percent shooter from inside the three-point line. But he did produce a fairly impressive 0.92 points per possession on post-ups, which was good enough to rank him in the 72nd percentile among NCAA players.
He struggles to finish at the rim due to his lack of lift, craft and power. At the next level, one would expect that he will get chased off of the three-point line and, as such, he will need to develop a better dribble game that will allow him to be a threat when trying to punish close out defenders.
Carr has a nice in-and-out dribble technique but he does not have the complimentary skills to do much with it other than to look for opportunities to use his step back jumper.
On this play, you can see how naturally he shifts into playing with his back to the basket in the mid post. The defensive help does not concern him as he steps in to find the space to hit the mid-range shot.
His shooting motion is very clean and efficient. And Carr has a really nice high release point which is helpful since his release is still a little on the slow side at this point.
The defender closes out on him at the three-point line on this play. He uses his post skills to work his way to a fade jumper that he comfortably converts. He does not attack aggressively because of his lack of athleticism. He’s much more methodical than he is explosive.
Here you can see the difficulty he has finishing shots at the rim in tight quarters.
Even in transition, Carr struggles if there is a modest contest of his shot.
Carr makes up for some of those limitations by simply being relentless. He does not get down on himself when the shot is not falling. He will keep working and try to find a way to contribute like he does on this play by getting the put and back and the and-one.
Carr is, at times, more effective with his runner than he is trying to get all the way to the rim. He can be a bit sneaky in this area. Despite his lack of quickness and verticality he is able to use his long strides and ease his way to a spot to get a good percentage shot attempt.
Carr will likely never have the size or the quickness to be an above-average defender at the point of attack defender in the NBA. But, in the same breath, he is a smart team defender and has the motor to help him make up for his lack of other tools. Penn State was a top-20 defense in the NCAA per kenpom.com and his understanding of angles and spacing is solid.
His best value as a defender at the NBA level is likely to be his versatility. He’s probably going to be good enough to function in a switch-heavy scheme or to help a team that needs their players to be able to play up to a bigger position on the defensive end of the court.
On this play, he gets switched on the opposing team’s center. And he displays the confidence to work to deny a passing lane by fronting the player in the post. When the perimeter shot is attempted, Carr works smartly to engage and push the bigger player towards another teammate that allows them to secure the defensive rebound.
Every NBA team is looking for shooting. Despite the fact that there is only one ball, there is no such thing as having too much shooting.
At the NCAA level, Carr was able to operate at the point guard position in a similar way that Shaun Livingston does so at the NBA level. But the biggest question is whether Carr will develop the ability to handle the speed of the NBA game. If not, he may not ever profile as anything other than a player that can provide some occasional offensive spacing and his prospect evaluation will be intriguing as a result.