Reviewing the Milwaukee Bucks’ signing of Jevon Carter a month later

Mar 9, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports
Mar 9, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA: Michael McLoone-USA TODAY Sports /

To say I’m surprised with how well the Jevon Carter signing has gone for the Milwaukee Bucks so far would be an understatement.

Even as a huge fan of his coming in, I had my expectations tempered because of how he looked in his first three NBA stops. He got some run with the Memphis Grizzlies in his rookie year but didn’t do a whole lot in around 15 minutes per game. He started to knock down shots for the Phoenix Suns, but once Cameron Payne emerged for them as a really good backup to Chris Paul, he wasn’t going to last long.

I had relatively high hopes for him when he landed with the Brooklyn Nets. They needed better point-of-attack defenders and that’s Carter’s calling card. However, for whatever reason, it didn’t work and he didn’t seem to fit with the Nets. Thus, they signed Goran Dragic and let Carter go.

You know what they say though, one team’s cut is another team’s role player (or something along those lines).

Reviewing the Jevon Carter signing for the Milwaukee Bucks over a month later

Carter has immediately made me look pretty silly in terms of what I projected his role to be. Seeing as George Hill was still out at the time, I expected Carter to get some minutes to fill that void until he returned. To be specific, I said between 10 to 12 minutes would be where I could see him fitting in.

Wrong! In 12 games Carter has averaged nearly 19 minutes per game and has played in that 10 to 12-minute range only three times. He has more games over 20 minutes (four) than he does in the range I thought he’d fit into.

Then, when Hill returned, I was fully expecting him to re-take the role as the backup point guard and play more than Carter because head coach Mike Budenholzer trusts Hill more than the newer Carter.

Wrong again! In four games since returning, Hill has averaged under 13 minutes per game to Carter’s 20. Hill has played more than Carter in a game only once since returning and it was only by around four minutes or so.

Some of that has to do with Hill’s ejection early in the game against the Minnesota Timberwolves and still returning from his long absence, but it’s clear that Budenholzer trusts Carter to an extent and is more than comfortable with him out there.

While most of that is due to his defense, the biggest reason we’re seeing Carter out there so much is that he’s hitting his shots. Carter is shooting 56.7 percent overall from 3 on 2.5 attempts per game and they aren’t just catch-and-shoot looks.

Although the majority of his 3s have been off the catch (11-of-20), he’s also knocked down 5-of-9 on pull-up 3s, which is a big step up from what we saw from him in Brooklyn. He’s not going to keep shooting over 56 percent from 3, but it’s a great sign that his shooting has rebounded and he’s benefitting from the open looks being generated by the stars around him.

The next positive is that he, like Hill, can play alongside another guard and does so very well. Lineups with both Carter and Jrue Holiday have an 11.8 net rating in 85 minutes together. It’s not the ungodly high net rating that Hill and Holiday have, but it’s good to see that he can fit in around Holiday.

Speaking of fitting in around the stars, Carter is also very good with Giannis Antetokounmpo (7.3 net rating in 108 minutes) and Khris Middleton (12.1 net rating in 126 minutes). Overall, he’s been a plus when he’s out there, and as I say about Hill, as long as you’re winning his minutes then that’s all I need to see.

I don’t need to explain too much about why he’s such a good defender to those that have seen him, but it’s fun to look into the numbers a bit anyway! He’s holding opposing guards to a 47.7 percent effective field goal rate (five percent below league average) and opponents’ effective field goal percentage drops by five percent when he’s on the floor for the Bucks, per Cleaning the Glass.

I’m still not ready to say he should be a guaranteed part of the playoff rotation, but it’s going to be hard to sit him down if he continues to hit his shots and play his signature brand of in-your-face defense. I have been thrilled with his career rejuvenation with the Milwaukee Bucks.

This move would have been a clear win even if the Bucks had to give up a 2nd round pick to get him, but the fact that they were able to acquire him for free and he’s fit in so seamlessly for them is a Barry Bonds in Game 2 of the 2002 World Series-sized home run for the defending champs.

Next. Ranking 5 potential first round opponents for the Milwaukee Bucks. dark

It’s so much fun to see a player I cheered for when he was in college having success with the NBA team that I cheer for as well.