22 for 22: Carlton Carrington would bring more 3s, scoring to Suns

Jun 20, 2024, 6:05 PM

Carlton Carrington #7 of the Pittsburgh Panthers shoots the ball against Armando Bacot #5 of the No...

Carlton Carrington #7 of the Pittsburgh Panthers shoots the ball against Armando Bacot #5 of the North Carolina Tar Heels in the Semifinals of the ACC Men's Basketball Tournament at Capital One Arena on March 15, 2024 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

(Photo by Greg Fiume/Getty Images)

The Phoenix Suns need to improve their bench. There is particularly a lack of firepower among the group, especially if Grayson Allen remains a starter next season.

It is unconventional but they could choose to upgrade their team by adding to its biggest strength already in on-ball scoring. There isn’t another way to go for Phoenix this offseason in achieving that besides adding freshman Pittsburgh guard Carlton Carrington.

Which is where we’ll make our first correction already. Carrington is more of a jump-shooting prospect than a scoring prospect. He’s got a rare resume. Over half of his shots this past year were 3s. He made only 32.2% of them but only 43.1% were assisted, per Hoop-Math, meaning a whole lot were off the dribble via his own volition. While it is a little scary of a number, Carrington’s knocked down 50% of his 130 two-point jumpers (33.7% of total shots) and was a 78.2% foul shooter this past season.

The big ol’ red flag is only 54 shots at the rim (14% of total shots), although he did convert on 53.7% of ’em.

Looking at the late-first round range of Carrington, two easy comps are Los Angeles Clippers guard Bones Hyland (26th, 2021) and Toronto Raptors guard Immanuel Quickley (25th, 2020). The Hyland comp is especially pleasing because Nah’Shon goes by Bones and Carlton goes by Bub. We need more fun names in the NBA, like Immanuel Quickley too!

The Hoop-Math numbers there share some similarities. Quickley’s sophomore year at Kentucky featured a 15.1% volume of his shots being at the rim while Hyland was up to 30.6%, but he had twice as many of those assisted as Quickley or Carrington. More importantly, Hyland (37.1% 3-point shooter) and Quickley (42.8%) both had at least two-thirds of their 3s assisted, unlike Carrington.

Our path down the trail here was to get us arriving at how valuable of a skill shooting 3s off the dribble is.

A ball-handler can for all intensive purposes be a good shooter but if they are not a constant threat to rise and fire coming around a ball screen, it lets the defense off the hook and maintain a decent shape. Now that on-ball defender can go under and doesn’t have to fight over a pick. Now that big doesn’t have to worry about coming to the level of the screen. Mike Conley has been one of the league’s better pull-up 3-point shooters and without that development in his game he would have been out of the league years ago.

Bub can do that and he’s a big lad. He’s close to 6-foot-5 with a 6-foot-8 wingspan. Look at how cozy he appears to be with these releases.

Your natural followup because you are a smart basketball fan is if Carrington can be a point guard at that size. Adequately? Maybe? The playmaking at the very least is at a solid enough level to see some room for growth that is more than doable. And he was not too loose or wild with the ball, either, on some daredevil passing missions.

Carrington is a unique prospect because he is the No. 1 guy once the lottery gets done where he has a defined skill set already but requires the right fit of a team to utilize it where the potential payoff is immense. Giving him the keys right away is a no-go. But put Carrington out there with a team that could use some sizzle on the ball and also has competent on-ball talent around him so he can ease into a rhythm and he will be the steal of this range.

So, the Suns actually do qualify. It’s just not what is best for them at this point. Looking at the more direct point guard skills of prospects like Tyler Kolek and Isaiah Collier is of more interest to fill the need if that’s the direction with the pick. For Carrington, keep an eye on teams like Los Angeles (No. 17), Minnesota (No. 27) and Denver (No. 28).

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22 for 22: Carlton Carrington would bring more 3s, scoring to Suns