Anthony Carter: Too Turnover Prone?
Posted by Zach Lowe on Aug 9, 2009
Anthony Carter is running second (behind Stephon Marbury) in the poll asking you all who you’d like to back-up Rajon Rondo next season–if the C’s decide to use the (currently) last remaining roster spot on a free agent rather than Lester Hudson.
First, it’s important to note that Denver has already offered Carter a one-year deal worth the veteran’s minimum of $1.3 million, according to Chris Tomasson at Pro Basketball News. The Celtics can’t beat that offer unless they decide to give Carter a multi-year deal, which is unlikely considering fiscal realities and the fact that Carter is 34. So Carter would have to leave for non-monetary reasons, which might include a (slightly?) better chance at a title and not having to worry about fans clamoring for Ty Lawson to swipe his minutes.
But how good is Anthony Carter?
Offensively, he is, frankly, not as good as I had thought. Let’s start with the positives, though:
• Dude can pass. Carter averaged 4.7 assists per game in just 23 minutes on the floor, and his assist/48 minute number ranked 13th among 78 point guards last season, according to ESPN. If you’re into advanced stats (and who isn’t!?), his assist rate—the percentage of Denver baskets he assisted on while on the floor–-ranked 17th among more than 100 guards who saw the floor last season, and would have cracked the top 10 among guards eligible for the scoring title, according to Basketball Reference. (Carter wasn’t).
According to our friend Jeremy at Roundball Mining Company, Carter is an especially effective passer in transition. I have a feeling Heinsohn would love him.
Now, the bad:
• Carter, by one measure, was the single most turnover prone guard in the league last season. That measure would be turnover rate, an estimate of the number of turnovers a player commits per 100 plays in which he tries to do something with the ball. Carter’s numbrer: 26.9. For comparison’s sake, guards on the high side included Jason Kidd (21.8), Steve Nash (20.8) and our own Rajon Rondo (19.2). Other high-usage PGs with better rates included Chris Paul (13.5) and Chauncey Billups (13.0), according to Basketball Reference.
A side note: The numbers for Kobe Bryant (9.7) and Brandon Roy (9.0) here are pretty ridiculous, especially from Roy, who shares primary ball-handling duties in an offense that isn’t as dependent on passing/cutting as the Triangle Kobe pretended to run in LA.
Jeremy at Roundball comes to Carter’s defense here by noting that his assist/turnover ratio of 2.35 ranked above several back-up PGs, including Jordan Farmer, T.J. Ford, Will Bynum, Stephon Marbury, Mike Taylor, George Hill, and even one “All-Star” starter (Mo Williams).
(Overall, Carter’s assist/turnover mark ranked 42nd among 78 point guards, according to ESPN).
I see the point—Carter’s high assist rate camouflaged (somewhat) his obscenely high turnover rate. I guess it comes down to what you most want out of your back-up PG—offensive creativity or reliability and care for the basketball.
I prefer the latter, because the Celtics, as we’ve gone over ad nauseum, are among the most turnover-prone teams in the league.
Also in Carter’s defense (hat tip again, to Roundball): He cut his turnovers down considerably toward the end of the season and in the playoffs, when he coughed it up just 0.7 times per game and about 17 percent of the time he tried to make a play. I’d much prefer those numbers.
• Carter is not a perimeter threat. He shot 43 percent overall last season, including just 24 percent from deep, which suggests perhaps the one three he took per game was one too many. He’s not great on long twos, either; his effective FG% on jump shots was only 40.8 percent–three points lower than Nene’s mark.
We’ll (briefly) discuss Carter’s defense, after the jump…Jeremy tells us that Carter does a good job hounding opposing guards, and that he did a decent job limting Dwayne Wade in the regular season and Jason Terry in the playoffs. (That does not justify George Karl assigning him to guard Kobe Bryant for even a single possession during the Western Conference Finals. Awful coaching, there).
The numbers show Carter to be an average defender. The Nugs gave up 1.9 fewer points per 100 possessions with Carter on the floor last season, and opposing point guards recorded a 14.8 PER against him–a smidgen below league average, according to 82games. That was an improvement over 2008, when the Nugs allowed 3.1 points more points per 100 possessions with AC on the floor and opposing PGs ran up a 17.8 PER against him. His Basketball Prospectus defensive numbers are also average.
Still, there’s nothing to suggest Carter is a defensive sieve, except perhaps the speed with which he might decline as he ages.
The verdict: He’d be a solid one-year option provided he takes better care of the ball than he did last season. Even so, he’s probably staying in Denver.