It wasn’t easy for an outsider to get to know the Milwaukee Bucks guard who always wore the hoodie, but it’s not entirely by accident.
Even though Jevon Carters jumpshot says: Keep distance. I don’t need you too close.
It’s a fluid, full-range shot, but Carter doesn’t fully extend his elbow and wrist, sometimes giving the illusion that he’s pulling his shooting hand back quickly, almost like touching the stove to see if it’s still warm. Cautious.
But the 6-foot-1, 187-pound Carter actually feels like he doesn’t need to do anything but make a bucket. Trying to make a mistake with that jumper just isn’t worth it.
“I try to play without the referees,” Carter said near the end of last season, when the Bucks lost to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. “If I can do it without getting dirty, I try to do it. Sometimes I get molested and they don’t call it. Sometimes it will throw me off. I try to get it off before they can touch me .”
That’s somewhat notable because Carter has been a good shooter for the Bucks. More than a good shooter from Bryn Forbes vs. Miami in the playoffs. Carter’s was a good shooter all year, which is not how he was typecast coming into the league.
But he didn’t play much in the five playoff games against Miami, scoring five points in 49 minutes played.
And his future with the team may have a question mark.
Carter signed one two-year deal with Milwaukee in July 2022, but he can opt out and sign elsewhere. The deadline for Carter to make his decision on the sophomore year is Thursday.
And with the Bucks bringing in new coach Adrian Griffin, what will that mean for Carter?
Carter always had a reputation in college for being a shutdown defender — and Griffin has said he wants to emphasize defense — but very few gave Carter the impression they believed in him offensively as he headed to the pros.
“Not really,” he said.
Is he still fighting that stereotype?
“Yes I am.”
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Jevon Carter built a reputation as a defensive end out of West Virginia
Carter was brought aboard the championship defending Bucks initially in February 2022, presumably for his defense. He was second on the team in 2022-23 with 66 steals in the regular season, behind only all-star Jrue Holiday, which is no surprise. Carter was the National Association of Basketball Coaches Defensive Player of the Year.
“Twice,” Carter said. “2017 and ’18. Twice. Only point guard in the history of the university ever to do so.”
“Because I wasn’t there,” said Carter’s locker room neighbor Holiday, who snuck into the interview to whisper in Carter’s ear. Holiday can’t resist messing with Carter.
“It’s fine; it’s your problem,” Carter let it return to Holiday.
Holiday and Carter were joined by Giannis Antetokounmpo in the conversation, with a guess about where Carter went to college.
“VCU?” Giannis said.
“You know where I went,” Carter replied.
“He went to Virginia…” Holiday said.
“None. VCU.” Giannis said. “…VCU?”
“WWOW,” Carter said.
It’s clear that Carter’s teammates really like him, but it’s also just kind of funny that he maintains a bit of anonymity, even here, in his own basketball home.
But there is a small part of him that wants to change his image. The label he lives with – Defensive Guy – is limiting.
“Mmm-hmm,” Carter said. “Always. The first team has to watch with me, a defender first. So it was my job to come in and put in the work and show them that I’m more than that.”
OK, but… how? Antetokounmpo had a career-high year in scoring (31.1) and led six Bucks who averaged in double figures during the regular season. Shooting opportunities didn’t exactly flow to Carter.
“You just have to take what you can get, honestly,” Carter said. “The world looks to me as a defender.
“And I don’t.”
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Carter has shown offensive development despite limited opportunities
Carter was seventh on the team in scoring, averaging 8 points per game. match; he shot 42.3% overall and 42.1% from three-point range. He scored 36 points against Oklahoma City in a Bucks double-overtime road win. He also made 6 three-pointers in four games during the season.
“What I know about Jevon over the last couple of years is that he works as hard as anybody,” teammate Pat Connaughton said. “Obviously, he’s shown his growth on the offensive end with the pull-up transition three, or his ability to get in the lane and take a mid-range jump shot and it’s like a layup.
“It’s all a testament to how hard he works. And I think at the end of the day, you want to play with, and you want to play for, a guy like that.”
Carter played in 81 of 82 regular season games; the only one he missed was April 4 with a gash on his foot. He played more games than any other Buck; Brook Lopez tied for second at 78.
The one person who saw the overall potential in Carter was Bob Huggins, his coach at West Virginia, though it was impossible for Huggins’ defensive style not to impress Carter. So defense became the reputation on which Carter built his NBA career, which has spanned five seasons and brought him to five teams (Memphis, Phoenix, Toronto, Brooklyn, Milwaukee).
“I loved Huggins,” Carter said. “His toughness, his competitiveness. His will to win. He just wanted the best out of his guys. He just showed tough love.
“We practiced sometimes without a basketball. He said we had to earn the privilege of playing with them.”
Carter, 27, didn’t play many minutes while on the Phoenix roster when the Suns met the Bucks in the 2021 NBA Finals. And he also didn’t get a chance to chase a ring this year, with the Bucks bowing out in April.
Carter is a realist, and even when the team was still playing, he knew he couldn’t finally feel at home in Milwaukee.
“No, not in this business,” Carter said. “I can be gone tomorrow. I’m grateful every day. ”