When the Memphis Grizzlies drafted Jevon Carter with the 32nd overall pick in the 2018 NBA Draft, the NBA world agreed that the former West Virginia standout couldn't have landed in a better situation. Both Carter and Memphis have hung their respective caps on the idea that toughness, defense, and hard work will inevitably lead to success. If you will, they were meant for each other.
In a recent interview with WV MetroNews, Grizzlies general manager and West Virginia native Chris Wallace further explained his team's selection of Carter.
"Obviously, he’s a terrific prospect, he’s not just a physical defender, he’s also a cerebral defender, and he played for a defensive master in Bob Huggins, so he’ll get it. Once he starts coming up with those steals, strong-arming his way to extra possessions and diving around everywhere, I think the fans are going to love him.”
The Grizzlies are hoping he "gets it" sooner rather than later.
After several seasons of carving out a niche as a tough-nosed team and numerous playoff appearances, Memphis decided to bid farewell to the founding fathers of the "grit and grind era" in forward Zach Randolph and guard Tony Allen. A dismal 22-60 record followed and it became obvious during the draft that Wallace is trying to recapture the toughness Memphis once boasted by picking Jaren Jackson Jr. with its 4th pick and Carter with its 32nd.
Carter won't be asked to press like he did as a Mountaineer but his ferocious style of defense in the halfcourt will be counted on a night to night basis. Shutting down former Oklahoma Sooner Trae Young is one thing but Carter will be up against former MVP's like Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook, and James Harden in the Western Conference.
Early on, Carter will be tasked with backing up Mike Conley and looked on to provide a spark as a shutdown defender but undoubtedly, he will need to find a way to score. Carter's size and athleticism don't jump off the page but that didn't keep him from averaging just under 18 points per game during his senior campaign. And even though defense is what kept Carter on the court as an underclassman in Morgantown, the NBA game is built around spacing and offense.
Carter's midrange game will become his second calling card behind his perimeter defense. Time and time again, he displayed the ability to get to a spot and knock down easy jumpers. And of course, if his high rate of steals translates to the professional ranks, he'll have plenty of opportunities in the fast break.
If Carter takes full advantage of every opportunity he's given like we know he will, don't be surprised if the former Mountaineer wills his way to the all-rookie team.