DeMarre Carroll constantly lives a basketball life of humility and hard work.
His college nickname of “Junkyard Dog” has stayed with him through his travels in the top level of basketball for his undying hustle and diligence. It comes as no surprise that he wants to better his game in any way possible, or even ways impossible without a skin transplant, such as becoming the black Kyle Korver.
This interesting soundbite came via the Atlanta Journal-Constitution’s Hawks beat writer, Chris Vivlamore:
— Chris Vivlamore (@ajchawks) May 5, 2014
Carroll had only started 22 total games in 4 seasons in the NBA since being drafted out of Missouri in 2009. He played for 4 teams in those 4 seasons, ranging from benchwarmer to merely just a role player, and made the playoffs just once in those 4 seasons.
After the Hawks traded away arguably their best wing core since the Dominique Wilkins days two decades ago, the team was left to peruse the market for an eventual replacement. While Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams routinely were lightning rods for unfair criticism of their contracts, and in Marvin’s case his draft status, they helped usher in a winning era for the Hawks that has seen the home team make the playoffs a current Eastern Conference record 7 times in a row.
The starting small forward spot last season was manned by DeShawn Stevenson, owner of the 4th worst PER among players with at least 1100 minutes played in 2012-13, so expectations were predictable pretty low for whatever direction the Hawks would chose to take at that position. While there was a lot of unfounded chatter about the possibility of Atlanta landing an elite player in the last offseason, there was considerably less noise about the Hawks new signings of Paul Millsap and DeMarre Carroll.
Carroll readily became entrenched into the team’s plans last season. He logged 32.1 minutes per game this season, almost twice as much as his previous career high, and his 2341 minutes played this season were only 201 minutes away from the team leading Jeff Teague.
While Carroll’s goal of being the black Kyle Korver is a bit lofty, especially for a guy with a career 3PG% of 34.2, there are definitely tips DeMarre can take from the 11 year veteran.
Here is Carroll’s shot chart in the 2013-14 regular season per NBA.com.
Carroll would be best served by practicing his shot in the corner. It is the most efficient shot from behind the arc by far, and does wonders for an offense’s spacing, something the Hawks uncharacteristically struggled with in Games 6 and 7 in first round postseason action against the Pacers. If he can become more confident with his shot there and be will be willing to take more from there, the sky’s the limit to the Hawks’ firepower next season.
Having one or two guys constantly in the corners in the halfcourt offense is a staple of some of the best offenses in the league, like the Spurs and the Heat. As the closest shot to basket of those behind the arc, it demands constant attention by defenses, consequently freeing up space in the paint for others to operate.
Conversely, wing threes are the least efficient, as shown in the same study by 82games, and Carroll enjoys taking that shot from the right wing, as you can see above.
With the hopeful return of Al Horford next season, the Hawks could be best served deploying a healthy amount of horns sets with their starting crew. With Korver and Carroll in the corners, Millsap and Horford would be isolated in space at the top of the key. If Carroll can become a knockdown three point shooter from the corner, both bigs have the option to pass it to either Korver or Carroll spotted up at the sight of a slouching defense for easy points.
First, admire the many green areas in Kyle Korver’s shot chart, especially behind the arc. The green indicates a shooting mark well above league average, with the yellow near league average and the red below it. Then compare his distribution of three point shots to Carroll’s.
Korver led the league among qualified candidates in three point shooting at 47.2% this year, his second best shooting season as a professional. But his season will best be remembered for shattering an NBA record for most consecutive games with a three pointer. He blew by the record formerly held by Dana Barros at 89 games with a mark of 127 straight games dating back to early last season. That is the same type of consistency DeMarre will look for in his quest for an automatic shot.
Of course, there are already aspects of his game in which Carroll already performs at an All-NBA level. He is a gritty defender who rarely backs down to any challenge on the court. Over the years, he has taken on the top offensive small forwards head-to-head, such as Eastern Conference studs Lebron James, Carmelo Anthony and recently Paul George.
While his driving ability is sometimes marred by his too often flubs in transition, Carroll has the athletic ability to dribble and drive the ball on most defenses, something Korver smartly shies away from.
In the end, Kyle Korver’s game is not a picture of what Carroll should aim to emulate. Both possess valuable tools that this Hawks team will need to complement the return of Al Horford going forward. But Carroll’s enthusiasm to expand his game is undoubtedly a desirable quality and a reassuring memo that this past season’s results were nowhere near good enough.
Carroll was only three spots lower that the team leading Kyle Korver on the leaderboard of ESPN’s Real Plus-Minus last season, which is just plus-minus (points scored minus points given up while a player is on the floor) with adjustments for the quality of teammates and opponent.
RPM is a great attempt at quantifying both offense and defensive contributions to resolve a player’s worth. Although Korver is the more efficient shooter, Carroll certainly makes it up in on-ball defensive prowess. As a result, it came out to be only a tiny .04 point difference between the two in RPM, so in this sense, he’s already almost exactly the black Kyle Korver.
Now to work on that skin transplant.