Friday, May 29, 2015

Free Agent Profile: DeMarre Carroll

DeMarre Carroll - SF - 6'8, 215
FA Ranking: 16

After surviving an injury scare during the Hawks' sweep at the hands of the Cavs, DeMarre Carroll figures to hit free agency as a very hot name this summer.  He provided the Hawks with excellent value on a 2-year, $5M deal agreed to in the summer of 2013, going from unheralded role player for the Jazz to pivotal starter for the Eastern Conference's best regular season squad.  Carroll's ability to put his stamp on a game at both ends of the floor and in all areas of the box score is going to get him a significant raise this summer.  No player has done more over the last two seasons to improve the quality of their overall game than DeMarre Carroll.  Now the true question is, how much should that be worth to the dozen-or-so teams who are going to pursue him in free agency?


DeMarre Carroll
PPG
PER
USG%
TS%
3PAr
3P%
AST%
TRB%
FTr
FT%
DRtg
2013-14
11.1
13.9
15.2%
57.5%
.417
36.2%
8.9%
10.0%
.220
77.3%
106
2014-15
12.6
15.9
16.9%
60.3%
.466
39.5%
8.3%
9.7%
.277
70.2%
104
Career
7.6
14.0
15.9%
55.5%
.341
36.6%
8.3%
9.9%
.251
73.3%
106

There's no doubt about it, DeMarre Carroll was one of the best role players in the NBA this season.  On a team where there were no true superstars, Carroll was an efficient scorer, a solid defender, a great rebounder for his position, and enough of a playmaker to help the Hawks offense go.  The only thing keeping his PER from being up in the high-teens is a fairly low usage rate, which is a big point in any case against giving Carroll the kind of money he might get this summer.  In terms of what he did well, Carroll's True Shooting Percentage was absolutely incredible, low-usage role player or not.  It's hard to find a SF who rebounds the ball as well as Carroll, which is a necessary skill for any SF who plays in a lineup where the PF spends a lot of his time outside of the paint.  Although he takes close to half of his field goal attempts from beyond the three point line, Carroll is still somewhat adept at getting to the FT line.  Statistically, it's really hard to poke any holes in Carroll's game.

Where you can start to poke holes in Carroll's game is when you start looking at his individual numbers in certain situations on both sides of the ball.  While he is widely regarded as an excellent defender, Carroll doesn't rank much more than average in any of the individual defensive categories listed below, per the NBA's player tracking stats:

Play Type
Carroll Opp. PPP (Poss.)
Best Piston (PPP)
Isolation
0.87 (71)
Andre Drummond (0.74)
PnR Ball-handler
0.78 (156)
Brandon Jennings (0.77)
Post-Up
0.91 (44)
Jodie Meeks (0.74)
Spot-Up
0.91 (299)
KCP (1.04)

When compared to other free agent options at SF, such as Khris Middleton or Al-Farouq Aminu, Carroll isn't on the same level as those two defensively.  The biggest concern here is, Carroll will be seeking a four year contract at age 28.  What you see above is theoretically what you'll get for two, maybe three years, and then he'll decline from there.  What are those mediocre defensive numbers going to look like when he's 31 or 32 years old?  He's not a horrendous defender by any measure, but I think his reputation as some stellar defensive player is contradicted by what we see above, and by what LeBron James did to Carroll in the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals.  Carroll may have been banged up during the series, but the results weren't encouraging.  For me, it's hard to look at Carroll as anything other than an average, or slightly above average defender.

Carroll's play type stats tell a similar story on the offensive end of the floor:

Play Type
Carroll Opp. PPP (Poss.)
Best Piston (PPP)
Isolation
0.88 (20)
Reggie Jackson (1.01)
PnR Ball-handler
0.70 (60)
Brandon Jennings (0.86)
Off-Screen
0.79 (42)
Jodie Meeks (0.88)
Spot-Up
1.18 (281)
KCP (1.05)

Here again, Carroll is merely average or below-average in just about every category, with the exception of spot-up situations.  Carroll is a great catch-and-shoot option, but he's not going to give you much on offense beyond that.  While it's certainly possible that he could continue expanding his game into his early 30's, he would be bucking the trend if he did that.  While it was certainly surprising that Carroll reinvented his offensive game in between Utah and Atlanta, he was only 26 at that point and still two years from his prime.  Now 28, Carroll should be entering his best years, not still adding new tools to his game.  While I wouldn't rule it out, what you see is probably what you get from Carroll on offense.

While I've taken a fairly negative tone on Carroll so far, I really do like his game.  Every team needs a guy like Carroll who you can throw at a multitude of guys on defense, and who knows his role on offense.  It's not fair to look at the offensive table above and only point out that Carroll can't get points for himself.  It needs to be pointed out that he did a lot catching-and-shooting, and he did it very well.  The reason I ranked Carroll so low in the Free Agent Rankings, and the reason I wanted to make sure I pointed out the holes in his game, is that he's going to get paid in a major way this summer.  DeMarre Carroll is an excellent value at $2.5M per season, and he was a big part of the Hawks being able to build their team with such great depth.  If he's making over $10M per season, it's a little bit harder to look at his 12 PPG and think about Carroll as a value player.  That story may be a little different if his defense lived up to its billing; in my eyes, it just isn't there.  

Let's assume that Stan Van Gundy and Jeff Bower don't read this blog, and that the Pistons do sign Carroll this summer to a four year, $52M deal.  This is hardly an unrealistic scenario, as the Pistons have been connected to Carroll as recently as last week by media reports.  With roughly $25M to spend this offseason, signing the deal above would leave the Pistons with $13M to fill the other holes on the roster: backup SF, PF and backup C.  Let's assume they grab their backup SF in the draft with the 8th pick, taking Mario Hezonja, and that the 38th pick is used on PF depth, with Richaun Holmes being the selection.  Here's what the rest of the offseason could look like following those picks and a Carroll signing:
  • SF DeMarre Carroll: 4 years, $52M
  • PF Derrick Williams: 2 years, $9M
  • C Bismack Biyombo: 2 years, $8M
  • C Jeff Withey: 2 years, $2M
That would leave a depth chart that looks as follows:

Position
1st
2nd
3rd
PG
Reggie Jackson
Brandon Jennings
Spencer Dinwiddie
SG
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope
Jodie Meeks
Cartier Martin
SF
DeMarre Carroll
Mario Hezonja
Quincy Miller
PF
Anthony Tolliver
Derrick Williams
Richaun Holmes
C
Andre Drummond
Bismack Biyombo
Jeff Withey

I'm not wild about that group, but my concerns are mostly driven by the fact that there isn't a solid starter at PF.  If you give Carroll that much money, you would have to move Brandon Jennings to create the cap space necessary to sign a contributor at PF.  That's a viable option from the Pistons' point-of-view, but who would really be willing to take on a guy coming off of a serious injury without requesting an asset be attached?  I chose to go the more conservative route, with the Pistons using the cap room they did have to add depth at PF.  Williams has been a huge disappointment after being drafted 2nd in 2011, but he's still only 24 years old.  Going the cheap route at PF allows the Pistons to get a quality backup at C, a position that is quietly a big need this summer.  Again, these aren't going to be accurate scenarios, but it's a way to look at how things would work if a big investment is made in Carroll.

DeMarre Carroll has absolutely earned the payday he's set to receive this summer.  His quality play for the Hawks should be rewarded, and I hope his agent gets him every dime he can get.  Let some other team give him that money though.  While I would love to bring Carroll on board for roughly $8M a year, there's way too much opportunity cost involved with giving him anything in the eight figure range annually.  His limited ability to create offense for others and his slightly overrated defense suggest that he may fail to live up to a deal that large.  Considering where the Pistons are in their rebuilding efforts, they just can't afford to take a risk on DeMarre Carroll.

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