Carroll’s fit in San Antonio should be close to seamless
If the multiple capitalized letters in his first name are of any common indication, DeMarre Carroll should be as close to a hand-in-glove fit as the Spurs could have afforded alongside stars LaMarcus Aldridge and DeMar DeRozan.
Some of the adjectives used to describe Carroll came in the form of his “toughness” and “defensive grit.” While these terms certainly hold merit, they don’t completely explain what the Spurs will be getting from their 3-and-D forward.
Carroll doesn’t fit the prototypical mold of an off-the-catch shotmaker. Of his 575 shot attempts a season ago, only about half of those came in catch-and-shoot fashion (295, which represents 49.6 percent of the attempts).
At a wiry 6’8″, Carroll boasts plenty of film where he can be a troubling matchup for either beefier, less-athletic power forwards, as well as undersized shooting guards when he gets a head of steam.
It isn’t on the same stratosphere as say, Carmelo Anthony — a player who routinely made a living on these sorts of mismatches — but the ability is definitely there for Carroll should a defender not respect his willingness to attack the rim. Here’s an example against Montrezl Harrell of the Los Angeles Clippers:
Expecting Carroll to do this on a routine basis would be a mistake; in 2018-19, he only drove 3.6 times per game. But when he did get within 10 feet of the rim, he found net on 49 percent of those takes.
Watching film of Carroll’s career night in Brooklyn — a Jan. 19 game last season against Miami — seemed to be of particular interest. All told, Carroll finished with 26 points, needing only 12 attempts to do so. And of the nine field goals he did connect on, miraculously, few of them came in the same fashion.
To illustrate the makes: a dribble-handoff that let him take advantage of a size disadvantage on Goran Dragic for his opening field goal (it’s worth noting Miami’s awful defensive assignments throughout this particular play.) Then came a quick off-the-catch jumper from deep that showed Carroll’s court awareness and patience Then there was a bully-esque attack of the paint, where Carroll capitalizes on a 3-inch size advantage. He gets into the lane, gets his own rebound, and finishes the shot. There’s also a crash for a loose ball leading to a quick steal and score.
Down double-digits, Carroll hits a quick fast break 3-pointer — more on this later — and it shows his spacial awareness once more. He lags back, understanding the Heat’s disorganized defense will focus in on Caris LeVert’s charge of the rim, and clears the path for an easy triple. Then came a physical, aggressive rebound.
Understanding the mismatch, he next takes Hassan Whiteside off the dribble for a cross-the-rim finish, and then has a similar take with the bigger Kelly Olynyk. The final bucket comes as he again hangs back, ready to unload as the defense calibrates onto Spencer Dinwiddie. With a quick-trigger, Carroll hits on the shot.
You think about the types of shots Carroll got among the likes of Dinwiddie and D’Angelo Russell, and how that could exponentiate alongside Aldridge and DeRozan.
Per NBA.com and Second Spectrum, Carroll took the majority of his field-goal attempts — 36.8 percent — with a defender within 6-plus feet, which NBA.com describes as “wide open.” That 36.8 percent is a number that the likes of Patty Mills and Davis Bertans hung around, giving the idea of what Carroll can do in the Spurs’ system.
It’s neither here nor there, but Carroll’s mentality also appears to be on par with the usual San Antonio Spurs culture. When notified that he’d put together a new career-high, Carroll cracked nary a smile, and didn’t appear to be even slightly surprised. With winning at the forefront, the Spurs have to be excited about the value they’ll get at the reserve forward spots.