It was clear at the NBA's Draft Combine in Chicago last week that former Maryland forward Robert Carter, Jr. is a talented offensive player. His 22 points in his first 5-on-5 scouting scrimmage showed that.
But there's a question on the other of the floor that needs to be answered. In the evolving NBA pick-and-roll game, can he excel on the defensive end of the floor?
Speaking after his workout Wednesday with the Los Angeles Clippers, Carter addressed that point, via video from ClippersBlog.com.
"I feel like I'm a very versatile offensive player. Every team knows that, but on the defensive end guarding smaller guys," he said. "I feel like I had an opportunity to adjust this season, doing things I never did before, guarding little guys coming off ball screens, guarding little guys coming off pin-downs, different things like that.
"So my whole point of emphasis is just competing on the defensive end each and every day and just taking strides in the area of guarding smaller guys."
Throughout the 2015-16 season, Maryland head coach Mark Turgeon stressed the point that he was testing different lineups where Carter was forced to guard smaller players. There was mixed success.
Some of his biggest defensive victories actually came against guarding other offensively versatile bigs, including Nebraska's Shavon Shields and Hawaii's Stefan Jankovic in the team's Round of 32 game in the NCAA tournament. But some of the team's early struggles against mid-majors were a result of smaller players running up big stat lines -- partly an issue related to Carter and the rest of the team's rotations defensively.
In the NBA, it will be an every-night responsibility.
"I feel like I competed. I competed on the defensive end. I'm a work in progress far as guarding people smaller than me, so I feel like I got better," he said. "I think I switched on [former Indiana guard] Yogi Ferrell a couple times, kept him in front once or twice. He got past me once or twice, so I'm getting better. It's fun for me."
DraftExpress.com currently projects Carter to be selected No. 44 overall by the Atlanta Hawks.