This past season was a special one for Penn State sophomore Tony Carr. The 6-foot-4 point guard finished second in the Big 10 in scoring at 19.6 points per game and was fifth in the conference with five assists per contest to earn first team All-Big 10 honors.
The terrific campaign prompted Carr to make the jump to the NBA instead of staying for two more years of school.
Though his scoring and playmaking ability in addition to an improved 3-point shot will certainly intrigue NBA teams, the shine on Carr’s draft stock wore off a little after the NBA Combine, where he finished behind his peers in many of the athletic tests. There are also concerns over the consistency of his jump shot, finishing in the paint and defensive potential.
On the plus side, here are a few NBA players who show how Carr might find a way to stick in the league.
Delon Wright, Toronto Raptors: Wright and Carr had similar profiles coming out of school. Wright’s college numbers (14.5 ppg, 5.1 apg, 2.9 rpg and 2.1 spg as a sophomore) were a little more balanced than Carr’s but like Wright, Carr is a tall, wiry, playmaking point guard. Wright, a 6-foot-5, 180-pound guard, left Utah after a breakout sophomore campaign before he was drafted 20th overall by the Raptors. Though not a star in the league, Wright turned himself into an important piece of the Raptors’ 59-win squad this season. After playing in just 54 games in his first two NBA seasons, Wright played in 69 games, averaging 8 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists per game in 2017-18.
Andrew Harrison, Memphis Grizzlies: Sports Illustrated’s Jeremy Woo compared Carr to the former Kentucky guard in his draft preview. The biggest knock against Carr throughout the draft process has been his lack of elite athleticism. Harrison, who was rated the fifth-best player in his recruiting class coming out of high school, faced similar questions before he was selected 44th overall by the Phoenix Suns in 2015. The biggest difference between Carr and Harrison is Carr’s elite scoring ability in college. Harrison averaged just 10.1 ppg on 37 percent shooting for his college career. After spending his first year in the D-League, Harrison has carved out a spot in the Grizzlies’ rotation. He started 46 of the 56 games he played this past season, averaging 9.5 ppg in 23.7 minutes.
Jordan Crawford, New Orleans Pelicans: Crawford, Jarret Jack and Rodney Stuckey were mentioned in The Ringer’s draft report on Carr. Coming out of college Crawford was considered more of a shooting guard, while Carr seems to be considered more of a natural point guard. However, both came out as score-first players with questions about their defense and ability to be successful without the the ball in their hands. In his only year at Xavier after transferring from Indiana, Crawford averaged 20.5 ppg. His ability to be instant offense has helped him bounce around to five different teams since being drafted late in the first round (27th overall) by the Nets in 2010. Crawford has averaged 12.2 ppg in 281 career games.
Trey Burke, New York Knicks: Like Carr, Burke declared for the draft after a stellar sophomore season; Burke earned All-American honors, won Big 10 Player of the Year and the Wooden Award for college basketball’s most outstanding player. Even though he was three inches shorter, Burke came out of Michigan as much more of a prospect than Carr. He went ninth overall in the 2013 draft after the Wolverines’ run to the national championship game. Still the concerns with Burke sound similar to Carr's. Burke was considered a better scorer than distributor and lacked the elite athleticism and/or quickness of most NBA point guards. Burke started 111 games in his first two seasons in Utah as the Jazz tried to find out if he was their point guard of the future. Now with the Knicks, Burke averaged 12.8 ppg and 4.7 apg in 36 games last season.