By signing forward DeMarre Carroll away from Brooklyn, the San Antonio Spurs filled a blatant hole in their rotation with a versatile two-way player.
After the San Antonio Spurs walked away with three shiny new selections from the 2019 NBA Draft, fans patiently awaited the start of free agency to see how the organization plugs the two final holes in their roster. Their questions were answered quickly with both Rudy Gay and former Nets forward DeMarre Carroll inking contracts with San Antonio on the first evening of the free agency moratorium period.
Nabbing Carroll from Brooklyn as they transition to their next iteration with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving at the helm was an expert move by general manager R.C. Buford, who has assuredly taken note of Carroll over the years. As a crucial member of former Spurs assistant Mike Budenholzer’s 60-win season with the Hawks in 2015, Carroll credited much of his development to Coach Bud’s system which was crafted similarly to his former team’s style of play.
In roughly 25 minutes per game last season, Carroll averaged 11.1 points, 5.2 boards and 0.5 steals on an iffy true shooting percentage of 54.6. The 32-year-old finished the season for the sixth seeded Nets with a 1.9 net rating while showcasing a handful of capabilities as a spot-up shooter, veteran locker room presence, ball handling threat and exceptional and interior finisher.
Adding Carroll to the roster affirms San Antonio’s trend toward a more modern style of play. Slotting between the small forward and power forward positions, Carroll is a switchable defender with the intellect to defend positions 2-through-4 at a high level.
Within the Spurs’ team style of defense, Carroll is an ideal fit for the team and fits perfectly with this roster.
Next: Spacing the floor without sacrificing versatility
Spacing the floor without sacrificing versatility
Though his 34.2 percent three-point percentage may not suggest that Carroll is an elite shooter, he surely knows how to get to his spots and take advantage of catch-and-shoot opportunities. The Junkyard Dog hit 43.9 percent of his triples from the left corner last season, aligning perfectly with the Spurs’ emphasis on hitting from the corner.
Furthermore, Carroll hit 48 percent of his triples from above-the-break on the left side of the floor last season. Considering Popovich’s tendency to find his player’s sweet spots and exploit them, he’ll be sure to get Carroll to his spots on the left side of the court for open shots off of screens, rotations and with fastbreak opportunities.
Carroll is an excellent floor spacer as he forces defenders to step out and hone in on the perimeter because of his high point of release and quick trigger. One-dimensional shooters can be debilitating to a modern squad, making Carroll all the more intriguing for San Antonio.
As a capable ball handler and strong finisher, Carroll is able to take weaker defenders off the dribble and to the restricted area, where he made 59 percent of 139 attempts last season. In addition to his slashing and ball handling abilities, Carroll is a capable passer with a strong feel for team-based sets.
His mentality is clear: do everything he needs to do in order to help his team get the win. For as exciting as Carroll is as a prospect for the Spurs’ rotation, his talent is just as important as his affinity for culture building and camaraderie.
Next: Aligning values with the Spurs Way
Aligning values with the Spurs Way
Signing Carroll to join the core as currently constructed is a testament to R.C. Buford’s dedication to the Spurs way. Coming from a team that integrated fearless and commendable veteran leaders with a surging group of young talent, Carroll should transition relatively seamlessly to San Antonio.
Having previous experience playing alongside marquee shooting guard DeMar DeRozan, Carroll joins a dedicated group with immediate championship ambitions. Players like Dejounte Murray and Rudy Gay have made their desires to compete for a championship clear and they seem to wholeheartedly believe that this team can reach that status with the guidance of Gregg Popovich.
In addition to competing at the highest level, the Spurs have established a family culture that runs deep through the organization. From the locker room to the halls of the AT&T Center, everyone that makes up the fiber of San Antonio’s prized organization is considered Spurs Family. Carroll only strengthens that notion because of his steadfast attitude that’s combined with natural charm and an easygoing personality.
Of the many blatant similarities between the Nets and Spurs, emphasis on keeping their players happy is one of the strongest connections between the two organizations. San Antonio’s players continuously noted how much they enjoyed being around and playing with each other last season, harboring a positive environment for students of the game to sharpen their craft.
On the purest level, Carroll’s fit in the Alamo City simply makes sense.
Next: Toughening up the roster
Toughening up the roster
If there’s one thing you can rely on DeMarre Carroll for, it’s toughness. The 10-year veteran spent time between seven different teams in his career and was exposed a plethora of playstyles in the process. He always brought a certain level of grit to the table, but it’s become evident that Carroll is a grinder and will do whatever it takes to help his team succeed.
Whether it be sacrificing his body to make a defensive play, hustling down for a loose ball, boxing out a larger opponent for a rebound or barreling his way past opponents to the basket, Carroll can always be relied upon to give maximum effort. He never shies away from contact – in fact, he thrives when the game’s intensity increases.
Regardless of the game situation, Carroll shows up when he’s needed and will defer to teammates when it’ll provide his team with a better chance at winning the contest.
At times during the 2018-19 season, San Antonio seemed to give up when falling behind. Body language and poor shot selection would indicate that the player’s heads were not focused on the game, but instead on getting the contest over with. That’s not the case with Carroll – he’s a grinder and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep his team in a game.
Brooklyn wasn’t the most succinct defensive team last season and obviously suffered through growing pains with Caris LeVert’s injury devastating their early-season hopes. Through it all, Carroll remained the voice of reason with a calm, cool and collected demeanor that proved his devoting to his team.
This kind of energy will pair great with players like DeRozan and Gay, who can sometimes get lost in the moment and shut down. Carroll can push his teammates to be the best versions of themselves while allowing them to push him back.
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Once he gets acclimated with the team from a strategic standpoint, everything else will fall in line for San Antonio. The sky’s the limit and he knows it, so Carroll will be a pivotal member of this team’s veteran core moving forward.