The Pistons only have a second-round pick in the upcoming draft, but given their salary cap situation, it will be important for them to get a player with that pick. One option would be Tony Carr, a point guard out of Penn State.
Who is Tony Carr?
Carr was born and raised in Philadelphia Pennsylvania, he was a member of back to back state championships at Roman Catholic High School, after which he signed to play college ball at Penn State. Carr was a standout in his two seasons with Penn State, leading the team in scoring both seasons, including an NIT tournament win to finish off the season. After the season he declared for the NBA draft. Carr is listed at 6’5 and 204 pounds.
What is his game?
Here is a look at offensive highlights of the past season where he averaged 19.6 points, 5.0 assists, and 4.9 rebounds per game. He shot 40.8 percent from the field and 43.3 percent from deep for a true shooting percentage of 52.7 percent.
You can see from his highlights that he is not exactly an explosive scorer, his game has a lot of pull-up threes, post ups of smaller guards, and floaters in it. He also shows some ability as a passer and facilitator. If it wasn’t abundantly clear from his highlights, he was by far the central player in the Penn State offense and had a very heavy offensive burden.
Carr’s best ability heading into the draft is unquestionably his shooting. 43.3 percent from deep on 5.5 attempts per game is an elite mark, especially considering that a lot of those were off the dribble types and not spot ups. He has a fairly compact and quick release, while not being terribly bothered by defenders being in his grill. There is always the question as to how long distance shooting will translate from college to pro given the shorter college line, especially when Carr shot just 32 percent from deep in his freshmen season, but that 43.3 percent mark is absurdly good.
After his shooting, the simple fact that he was the guy on a college team is definitely a positive for Carr. When he arrives in the NBA he is unlikely to be at all overwhelmed by the stage or any responsibilities are given to him. He played heavy minutes and had a usage rate over 30 percent in conference play, whether he can actually execute may be a question, but he certainly will be ready to give whatever challenge given to him a try.
Lastly is that Carr possesses the right sort of size and length to project as a plus defender, he did not always make the best use of it in college, but if he puts in the work and dedication to becoming a real defender he should be able to become a fairly effective and versatile defender.
Beyond his shooting, there is not a lot that is clearly going to translate into a plus NBA level skill. Despite being a high-level scorer in college, Carr was wildly inefficient. In conference play his 20.1 points per game came at a true shooting percentage of just 50.2 percent. In Big 10 play Carr shot just 37.3 percent inside the arc which is an absolutely terrible mark, toss in that with 4.9 assists and 2.7 turnovers per game in conference play and he was unable to crack 2 assists per turnover.
Part of this was Carr’s situation. Penn State is very bad at basketball, they have been for a long time and Carr was clearly the best player on the team. Despite his inefficiencies, the 26-13 mark was the Nittany Lion’s best season in years. Given how bad Penn State is at basketball, some of his inefficiencies are understandable, whenever Penn State needed a shot created from nothing Carr was the one asked to do it. He put up a usage rate of 31.7 percent in conference play which is a pretty absurd number. Even with that though, some shots are just bad shots no matter how bad those around you are:
The 37.3 percent inside the arc stands out as a huge red flag. Carr consistently struggled to create separation from defenders which resulted in all of those tough floaters. When a player struggles so much to create space for themselves against college players there is little hope for them to do it against NBA defenders. Just for a quick comparison that Pistons fans can understand, Luke Kennard’s biggest question going forward is whether or not he will learn to consistently create separation against NBA defenders. Looking at the film, despite both being high scorers and great shooters, Kennard created space much more easily than Carr and shot 52.5 percent from inside the arc.
Obviously comparing Carr to Kennard is not totally fair, obviously, Kennard is a much better prospect than Carr is, but it goes to show that if you are hoping for Carr to maybe be a spark plug off the bench who can be a primary ball-handler then you are going to be awfully disappointed. Carr doesn’t have enough quicks or a tight enough handle to beat guys off the dribble and doesn’t have the size to consistently shoot over NBA defenders. His comfort with posting up smaller guards could potentially be used at the NBA level as an occasional wrinkle in certain matchups but that’s about it. Carr’s ability to launch off the dribble threes should give him some shot creation in the same way as Langston Galloway, but even Galloway creates more space for himself. For another comparison, Galloway shot 51.1 percent inside the arc in his Sophomore season at St. Joseph’s.
Defensively, despite having the length to potentially be a useful defender on the NBA level, Carr will have a ton of work to do on that end. He isn’t an explosive athlete or especially bulky so he doesn’t have awesome tools, and he did not show much of the effort or desire to defend at a high level in college. There were too many plays where he just didn’t try hard enough or didn’t pay close enough attention which led to him losing his guy off the ball or getting killed on screens too often:
If he wants to become an NBA caliber defender he will have to totally change his mindset on the defensive end and totally commit to it. This isn’t to say he can’t accomplish that, but he is very far from a sure thing on the defensive end. There are plenty of 6’5 dudes with decent length who never become any good defensively.
If he really commits to the defensive end of the floor there is an intriguing 3-and-D player here. Given that he clearly is comfortable handling the ball, posting up smaller guys, and bombing threes off the dribble it gives him something extra that a lot of 3-and-D prospects don’t have. In all likelihood, he will be more of a shooter than a defender but that is okay. The biggest question will be what his mindset is coming into the NBA. If he is pretty set on being a ball dominant player like he was in college then he will likely be doomed for failure, guys who struggle to finish inside like him (while also rarely drawing fouls) rarely are capable of being effective on ballplayers without being elite ball-handlers. On the other hand, if he simply embraced that style of play because it is what his team needed and in the NBA he will be fully on board with working his tail off to become a killer 3-and-D player then he would be a very attractive prospect.
The Pistons own Langston Galloway is a good one I think. Carr is a bit bigger and Galloway is a bit quicker/athletic but the comparison works. Both guys are primarily shooters who are confident enough to pull from anywhere and any situation but not all that effective as proper ball-handlers or finishing inside. If Carr can become as effective an NBA player as Galloway that would be a pretty successful get in the second round.
Fit with the Pistons:
His ability to shoot has to make him fairly attractive at least. By the time the Pistons are picking he would likely be the best shooter still on the board (if he is still on the board) by a decent margin. If his shooting translates to the NBA then the Pistons would have the use for him right away. The problem is that the Pistons already have 3 other guys on the roster who has his same theoretical skill-set of being good shooters and maybe ok defenders in Kennard, Bullock, and Galloway. If the Pistons can manage to move Galloway without giving up assets then Carr becomes more attractive, but as of now, he would be a bit redundant. If he was a few inches taller, a better ball-handler (proper point guard), or better defender then he would bring something the Pistons don’t have, but alas, he doesn’t.
In today’s NBA you can never have too many mid 6 footers who can really shoot, but the Pistons would probably do better to draft someone with the size to play forward where they are a bit thinner or someone who is more likely to be able to create their own shot which is another area where the Pistons are lacking.
So should the Pistons draft him?
He wouldn’t be my ideal pick, I am not a huge draft guy but there are a couple others I’d rather have. The reality is though that in the 2nd round you are going to be picking someone who is highly flawed, and Carr’s ability to shoot means that you know he has at least one thing he should be able to do on the NBA level. So the Pistons could certainly do worse than him.
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