Duke got the big fish it had coveted for a long time on Wednesday morning when Wendell Carter announced for the Blue Devils. The No. 4 prospect has been priority one on the post for the Blue Devils, and now he will bring a refined game with a great scoring ability to Durham.
Two years ago Duke was led in part by Jahlil Okafor to a national title. On their way to the title, Okafor averaged 17.3 points and 8.5 rebounds per game while shooting 66 percent from the floor.
The comparisons between Okafor and Carter, and what they will bring to the Blue Devils will no doubt happen, but there are a few key differences as well.
Similarly both Okafor and Carter are elite low post scorers. Okafor was the best low post scorer in his class and Carter is the best low post scorer in his class. While that is similar, Okafor would rate a bit ahead of Carter in this regard. Okafor had a bit better hands, was a bit bigger, and just had slightly more advanced footwork and touch on the low block. Carter isn’t sub-standard by any stretch in those areas, but Okafor was just slightly better.
Where Carter has the edge on Okafor is with his mobility and athleticism. Carter can move his feet a bit better in ball screen situations, which is obviously very important. While Carter will likely still be a target of opposing coaches in ball screens, he won’t be the liability that Okafor was at times.
Also Carter is a little bit better and more natural of a rebounder than Okafor was. Okafor was bigger and longer and controlled his area a little bit better, but Carter has a better instinct for the ball coming off of the rim and is a bit more mobile which allows him to do better rebounding outside of his area.
Because he is slightly better in that regard, it wouldn’t be a surprise if Carter was someone who pulled in double figure rebounds as a freshman.
When it comes to free throw shooting, which was a major liability for Okafor, Carter has been a bit more consistent throughout his career, but he also can go through periods of really struggling at the line.
Overall Carter is likely to bring roughly the same production as Okafor did in his time in Durham. Okafor was a bit more gifted as a low block offensive player, and was bigger and a better rim protector, but Carter is more mobile and slightly more versatile which should help in today’s day and age of spreading the floor with shooters and making big guys work in ball screens.
No matter what, Duke now has a dominant low post presence and someone who should help win a lot of games during the 2017-18 season.