For all the talk of being a safe pick by the Bulls, all signs are already pointing to Wendell Carter Jr. being the right pick!
Yes it’s only Summer League, and the level of competition Carter Jr. will face during the regular season will be much higher but he is already displaying skills that should make him a stalwart on defense. Especially when it comes to protecting the rim.
In his first Summer League game, Carter Jr. recorded 5 blocks, including one where he came over from the weak side and pinned the ball to the backboard and immediately led the fast break. I can’t stress enough how important a sequence like that will be for this young Bulls team that loves to run. He also pulled down 9 rebounds and put up 16 points. He showed a nice touch around the rim, as well as his ability to stretch the floor, by knocking down a triple.
The Bulls second Summer League game saw Carter Jr. record another impressive 4 blocks, along with 7 rebounds. Opponents are going to start thinking twice about trying to drive to the basket with Carter Jr. on the floor. It seemed like every time a shot was put up near the rim by an opposing player, Carter Jr. was swatting it away, including one shot he sent into the stands.
In his third game, He put up an impressive 23 points on 9/13, ripping down another 6 rebounds and rejecting 2 more shots. Carter Jr. has a total of 11 blocks through these three games, which has led to Bulls fans floating the nickname “Block Panther” around for Carter Jr.
Now we shouldn’t get ahead of ourselves and start proclaiming him the next Dikembe Mutombo. But it’s not far fetched to believe Carter Jr. could eventually lead the league in blocks as well as be in the running for Defensive Player of the Year. He just turned 19 years of age, while already displaying great defensive awareness and footwork. There’s huge upside there, and he’s only going to improve.
His game also seems like he will be a nice compliment to his front court mate Lauri Markkanen. Many believed that Zach Lavine was the prize of the Jimmy Butler trade. But after a stellar rookie season, all signs point to Markkanen being the Bulls top guy. The front office brass are looking to find pieces to build around Lauri, and so far Carter Jr. seems like the next piece of the puzzle for the great rebuild.
As much as many fans, including myself, hate to give GarPax any kind of credit, their safe pick seems to be the perfect pick. The future is looking bright, and I for one can’t wait to see how Carter Jr. will put on for the city of Chicago this upcoming season.