Why Wendell Carter Jr. Might Be the Star the Bulls Are Looking For

The Chicago Bulls are very much in rebuilding mode, attempting to build a winning franchise around solid, young talent. One of those talented young players is Wendell Carter, Jr. On a team full of players who have yet to fulfill their promise, Carter may be the star Chicago is looking for. Let’s take a closer look at how he may fill that role. 

Wendell Carter Jr.’s path to the NBA

The 6-foot-10 Carter played his college basketball at Duke, one of the nation’s top programs. Coming into college, he received the prestigious honor of being named a McDonald’s All-American. He logged only one season with the Blue Devils before declaring for the NBA draft. Here were Carter’s stats at Duke during the 2017-18 season: 

  • 37 games played
  • 13.5 points per game
  • 9.1 rebounds per game
  • Two assists per game
  • 56.1% shooting from the field
  • 73.8% free-throw shooting 

Carter finished the season named to the All-ACC second team as well as receiving All-Freshman team honors. Carter wasn’t the team’s primary offensive option, but he played an important role as a defensive presence in the paint. 

After Carter declared for the 2018 NBA draft, NBA.com provided a scouting report on the big man

“Wendell Carter is an athletic young big man with an NBA-ready frame who can do a little bit of everything on the floor and has significant upside in a number of areas as well.  An early bloomer, Carter has evolved considerably from a few years ago when he was a thicker, more traditional big man.”

The Bulls made him the seventh overall pick of the first round. 

Wendell Carter Jr.’s rookie season

Wendell Carter arrived with great promise in Chicago, a once-great franchise now struggling to maintain relevance in the decades since the Michael Jordan era. Carter showed flashes of potential but generally underwhelmed. As a rookie, he put up solid stats across the board: 

  • 44 games played
  • 25.2 minutes per game
  • 10.3 points per game
  • Seven rebounds per game
  • 1.8 assists per game
  • 1.5 turnovers per game

Not terrible results by any stretch of the imagination, but far from the impact a team would hope for out of a lottery pick. A thumb injury cut his season short as he played in a little more than half of the Bulls’ games. 

Heading into 2019-2020, Carter had plenty to prove. So far, he’s risen to the challenge. 

His emergence as a star of the future 

Wendell Carter Jr. could be the star player the Bulls have been waiting for since Derrick Rose.
Wendell Carter Jr. (right) drives toward the hoop. | Dylan Buell/Getty Images

The 2019-2020 season is still in the early going, but Bulls fans have plenty to be happy about with Carter so far. NBC Sports Chicago covered his emergence this year as a possible star of the future: 

“Carter has certainly done his part, taking a significant step forward through the first 11 games of his second season. The former Duke star is averaging 13.2 points, 9.7 rebounds, and has already notched seven double-doubles — the first Bulls center to accomplish that since Joakim Noah in the 2010-11 season.”

According to NBC Sports Chicago, Carter put in a lot of work in the weight room this summer, adding muscle to his already impressive physique. Carter clocked in at a solid 265 pounds when the season kicked off. The added strength helps make him a better defender and rebounder underneath, as well as giving him a better ability to create space in the post on offense.

Carter is still very young and not far into his fledgling NBA career, but he’s trending upward. After a promising rookie season, he’s become even stronger and more effective this year. He isn’t quite a star yet, but with continued improvement, it won’t be long until he becomes one.