It was another game, another loss as the Chicago Bulls dropped their fifth straight last night. There weren’t many performances which stand out , except Wendell Carter Jr., who scored a career high 28 points along with 7 rebounds and 3 blocks.
This was a big performance from the rookie, who had been struggling for the past couple weeks, whether due to foul trouble or a tough matchup.
It was a monster 3rd quarter, as Carter was the main reason why Chicago remained in the game. He scored a whopping 17 points including a stretch where he scored 11 straight for the Bulls. WCJ displayed the offensive skills which many raved out when he was coming out of college. He attacked the mismatches given to him by Detroit’s defense and kept making the smart play.
(1:15 - 1:22)
One play which consistently worked in the 3rd quarter was the Zach LaVine-WCJ pick and roll combo. Attacking the duo of Reggie Bullock and Drummond, Chicago found a lot of success when they ran this play. They were able to get Drummond to guard in space and it proved to be troublesome for him. WCJ’s mobility was able to catch his man off-guard and he got some really easy baskets.
In this particular sequence, Carter goes up and acts like he’s about to set a pick on Bullock. But at the last minute he drops back and it becomes a slip screen. LaVine goes right after WCJ leaves and moves to his right towards the paint. Drummond, who is guarding WCJ, was already sagging off when the play began so he’s right in position to stop LaVine on the drive. However Bullock let LaVine glide right by him and is nowhere near Carter Jr., who is near the free throw line on the switch. Seeing his teammate open, LaVine dishes the ball to WCJ. Immediately on the catch he heads towards the rim. Drummond is in pretty good position to rotate over and make a solid contest on the shot. Carter goes into Drummond, absorbs the contact, and goes up strong towards the hoop. He does a great job of taking the hit, hang in the air, and finish with his right hand. Plus he got fouled on top of it to cap off a good sequence of Carter Jr. not being afraid to attack bigger opponents and finding crafty ways to score near the hoop.
(1:25 - 1:33)
WCJ also showed his ability to stretch the floor offensively, something which have seen more from him as the season has gone on. Again, it was the same pick and roll combination, from the same exact spot on the floor which led to a bucket for the Bulls. LaVine didn’t move much this time when he made the pass, just stopping right above the three-point line to skip the ball to WCJ. Again Drummond didn’t step up to stop LaVine as soon as he took the screen. While this was used to make sure he could halt a drive from the shooting guard, it also put him in a tough spot to guard his actual man. Carter Jr. took advantage of that, sliding quickly to his left right above the free-throw line. He did a good job of timing his run so that when the pass got there, he stepped right into a jump shot. With Drummond out of position he was late contesting the shot. That gave WCJ more than time to rise up and knock down the jumper.
He also showed he’s a two-way player, making some top defensive plays. Especially his ability to rotate over and help on drives. WCJ had a monster block on Drummond, and on another play he stepped over and contested a hook shot nicely.
Another good example here of Wendell Carter tag and cleanse to avoid defensive 3 seconds and stop the layup. He already has a great understanding of how to shut down the paint https://t.co/w24QssmYKm pic.twitter.com/lON9091kSK— Stephen Noh (@StephNoh) December 1, 2018
This was a career night for Wendell Carter Jr. His 28 point performance was his best game of the season and he did it on an efficient night from the field (11 of 18). It was nice for his confidence as well, he needs nights like this to break out of his funk. Hopefully this can be the beginning of a better stretch of games from WCJ.