Carter Likely to Earn Hefty Pay Raise This Summer


Jevon Carter worked to put himself in a position to be a contributor and in the rotation for the Milwaukee Bucks this postseason.

Carter had a strong 2022-23 season where he stepped into a backup role behind Jrue Holiday and proved to be a valuable member of the team.

Once again, however, Carter was mostly passed over for minutes in the postseason. The 27-year-old now probably has the opportunity to pass on his $2.2 million player option and become a free agent to likely receive a better payday with Milwaukee or elsewhere.

Carter undersized but strong defender

The Bucks were among the best defensive teams in the NBA and earned the top record in the NBA. The Bucks have great individual defenders in Giannis and Jrue Holiday as well as great team defender and Defensive Player of the Year runner-up Brook Lopez. All the aforementioned names are given respect as great defenders around the league with Lopez just missing out on being Defensive Player of the Year and Holiday earning First-Team All-Defense honors. Giannis was DPOY in 2020 and has been a four-time First-Team All-Defense selection.

One guy who doesn’t get the respect defensively as those players is Carter, a bulldog defender.

Based on metrics, Carter is a top-five defender by defensive rating (107.2) for players who played at least 50 games and averaged 20 minutes per contest. Carter is undersized regardless of position, but he will not back down. The West Virginia product also isn’t going to take a single possession off. He constantly dogs the opposing ball-handler nearly the length of the court— which is pretty rare in the NBA.

The Bucks improved mightily from last season when they ranked 14th on that end of the floor. Carter was a big reason for the improvement along with a full season of Lopez. The Bucks were the fourth-ranked defensive team in 2022-23.

Carter more than just defense

While Carter by advanced metrics manifests he’s one of the best defenders in the league, he has proven he is more than just a try-hard, hustling defender.

The career 5.4-points-per-game guard isn’t thought about regarding being a player to worry about for opposing defenses. Perhaps that should change, though. Carter’s counting numbers don’t appear impressive, averaging 8.0 points per game with 2.5 rebounds and 2.4 assists per game. He shot 42.3% from the floor and over 42% from 3, however.

Carter showed that scoring punch a number of times. When called upon, he delivered in whatever capacity needed. With injuries and rest to key players, Carter had the opportunity to initiate offense in the halfcourt for the Bucks at times. It was highlighted in a double OT win over Oklahoma City on Nov. 9. Carter poured in a career-high 36 points and added 12 assists. Two nights later, Carter had 21 points and six assists in a win over San Antonio.

He also had 24-point, five-assist and 22-point, six-rebound and six-assist performances in victories over Orlando (Mar. 7) and Chicago (Feb. 16), respectively this season as well.

Furthermore, Carter shot and perhaps played his best basketball late in the season. He shot 44.6% from deep in March and 47.4% in four April games. He earned the right to be in the rotation in the postseason but received limited opportunity, once again.

The Bucks had the league’s fourth-ranked bench when Khris Middleton returned from his injury absence, outscoring their opponents by 18.5 points per 100 possessions in Middleton’s 235 minutes over a late-season stretch.

Carter can move on for more playing time

The diminutive guard showed he’s more than a defender this year. He shot over 40 percent from three with his always-solid defense.

In today’s NBA that generally earns you a decent contract. Carter can opt out and will likely be able to earn a nice payday outside of Milwaukee. The Bucks probably hope he opts in but it would be surprising. Being passed over again in the postseason has to sting.

Prediction: Carter declines his option and could be in a different uniform after earning a decent contract in the offseason. That doesn’t rule out the Bucks to offer him a deal leaving the door open for a potential return, though.

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About Mitchell Skurzewski

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