At long last, it's happening. What fans and pundits (and perhaps Bulls players) alike have clamored for.
"Wendell Carter, the 3-point shooter!" Zach LaVine bellowed through the Bulls locker room after their 116-81 waxing of the Atlanta Hawks.
That might be an exaggeration. But Carter did sink two longballs on the night, just his fourth and fifth of the season. Carter, famously, shot 41.3% from 3-point range in his one season at Duke, and much has been made of the doors adding that shot to his offensive arsenal could open.
"Yeah, of course I do," Carter said with a smile when asked if he liked taking 3s. On what's caused his recent uptick in attempts (averaging 1.2 per game over his last five): "Just my coaches being confident and my teammates telling me to shoot 'em."
There's no hesitation or awkwardness in that take, especially directly off the catch and with an ocean of space in front of him. Carter's second attempt (and make) was similar. It was Carter's second game of the year with multiple 3-point attempts.
"It opens up driving lanes for my teammates, it just spaces the floor a lot better," Carter said of the dimension his shooting adds to the Bulls' offense. "So I feel like it'll definitely help us in the future as I get more confident."
In the right circumstance, he's absolutely right. Carter is already a proven high-energy rebounder, efficient finisher and crafty distributor from the perimeter (without mentioning his defensive prowess). If he can start to make teams pay for leaving him open beyond the arc, both he — individually — and the Bulls' offense — collectively — will benefit.
"When he's faced up, he has his feet down on a catch-and-shoot, I'd like him to take those open shots," Boylen said. "I did not like the one where he dribbled out to the line, he knew it and I knew it, but that's the learning moment."
That attempt — his third, after making his first two — came when Carter dribbled an offensive rebound out to the corner and chucked one off the dribble with the Bulls ahead by 21 midway through the third.
"Yeah, I told him that was a heat check," Carter said with a chuckle. "Just had to take it and see what was going on."
We might be a couple evolutions away from that type of shot going in routinely. But Carter is now up to 22.7% 3-point shooting on the season, and it doesn't seem anyone would be upset to see his 0.7 attempts per game continue to climb, as well.
"I'm really proud of him, he's worked really hard at it," Boylen said. "And with time and space, let it fly."
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