The Other Guys: DeMarre Carroll
New York Post
In July of 2017, the Brooklyn Nets shipped Justin Hamilton to Toronto for DeMarre Carroll and a first and second round pick in 2018. This was the second deal of the summer where the Nets took on salary in exchange for assets, with the first being Brook Lopez for D’Angelo Russell and Timofey Mozgov. Carroll was owed around $30 million when the trade was completed, but he did have a solid reputation around the league as a solid role player.
The expectations weren’t high for the eight year veteran when he took the floor for Brooklyn, coming off a mediocre season in Toronto. However, Carroll already had a connection with second year coach Kenny Atkinson, having played under him in Atlanta for four years.
In his first year in Brooklyn, Carroll started all 73 games he played, playing around 30 minutes per game. He put up the highest amount of points per game in his career at 13.5, leading the team, playing alongside the emergence of Spencer Dinwiddie. Carroll was also to much improve his three point game in Brooklyn, taking 5.4 per game shooting 37% from behind the arch. Carroll also lead the Nets in plus/minus, one of only four players on the plus side.
Moving onto Carroll’s second year, this current season, the Nets are winning for the first time in four seasons, and Carroll doesn’t get enough credit for the team’s success. Carroll has taken a step back in scoring, letting Russell, LeVert, Dinwiddie and Harris take the shots. Carroll also is a full time bench player for the first time since 2013, having not started in any games so far.
Although DeMarre isn’t filling up the per game totals like he did last year, he’s a huge part of what many consider the best bench unit in the NBA. Of players to play in at least 40 games for the Nets, Carroll is second in net rating behind Ed Davis at 3.0. For comparison, that’s higher than some all stars like Kemba Walker, Nikola Vucevic and LaMarcus Aldridge.
After missing the first eleven games of the year, Carroll has only missed two games the rest of the way, and he has had some standout performances this year. Probably the most notable game was in Cleveland where he made a ‘veteran move’ forgoing a handoff to Joe Harris off the inbound pass, and stepping back to hit a three as the buzzer expires to force a third overtime period.
Carroll has been one of the most consistent bench players this season for Brooklyn as well. Carroll is always one of the first players off the bench for Kenny, playing over 25 minutes per game. We’ve seen the big moments, but he’s also so good at playing his role, taking the smart shot and being able to pass, in addition to his consistent defense.
Although he hasn’t been as effective as he was last season, that’s to be expected with his decrease in usage. What is arguably more important to this team is his relationship with D’Angelo Russell. Throughout the season, Russell has become an all star, putting up 20.5 points per game and 6.8 assists. The young point guard has referred to Carroll as “my vet”, and Carroll thinks highly of Russell as well.
After Russell and Carroll’s first season in Brooklyn, Carroll said he wanted to take D’Angelo under his wing and “lead like Sean and Kenny told me to”. The work with Russell has more than paid off, as Russell has turned into an all star, and is putting up either thirty point games or double-doubles every night it seems.
After the January 4th victory in Memphis, where Russell had 23 and 11 assists, D’Angelo spoke after the game about the veteran influence on the team saying “My teammates have given me the proper guidance to really learn and adjust”. Russell has had many quotes this season speaking highly of the team and his teammates, but perhaps the one that stands out the most is a tweet he sent after the Cavs game mentioned earlier:
The addition of Carroll isn’t one looked upon as a ‘big move’, but adding him to the team was when the new culture really started to take place. Caris LeVert started to play well, D’Angelo Russell showed signs of improvement, the Nets improved to a winning percentage over .270 for the first time in three years. Carroll’s second year was when things started to pick up, as the Nets are in the playoff race and there are rumors of the team being big players for some big free agents.
Needless to say, trading for Carroll has more than paid off for Brooklyn, and with the emergence of Dinwiddie in 2017, and Russell in 2018, Carroll hasn’t had a chance to be in the spotlight since he’s come to Brooklyn, making him part of “The Other Guys”.