Thursday, May 16, 2013

Scouting Report: Carrick Felix

Carrick Felix has taken an interesting path to get to this point in his career. He was an under the radar prospect in high school, ended up playing JUCO ball alongside Pierre Jackson, and was once committed to play at Duke following that. Felix ultimately ended up at Arizona State (where he has played the last 3 years) and didn't emerge onto the draft radar until this season at the age of 22 (he will be 23 when the 2013-14 NBA season begins).

Anytime a player struggled to make a big impact until his senior season, there will be red flags to answer. For Felix, he has certainly matured over the years. The birth of his daughter this past July forced him to mature and gave him a new focus on the game of basketball. During this past year, Felix also earned his master's degree in Liberal Studies.

But it just wasn't a new found focus on the game that helped him. Arizona State and coach Herb Sendek opened up their offense into a more pro-oriented system this year when he added a couple of former NBA coaches to his staff. Part of the reason for the change of system was to take advantage of freshman point guard Jahii Carson's skillset, who also played a big part in the emergence of Carrick Felix.

Playing in a more open offense, the game looked like it came easy to Felix. You could tell that Felix had played next to a dynamic point guard before (Pierre Jackson) and his ability to work off of Carson was excellent.

Felix isn't much of a playmaker himself, instead he's a guy who you usually will only see taking a maximum of two dribbles. He doesn't have much of a mid-range game either. But what he does is fill his role very well and takes smart shots.

Most of his points come from cuts to the rim, beating guys in transition, offensive rebounds, and cuts spot up 3-pters. As NBA statsheads will tell you, scoring from those spots on the court is an efficient way to make a living. He doesn't over-complicate anything, Felix just makes the plays that are given to him.

His best asset is his motor and you can see him consistently beating the other nine guys down the court on both ends. He became a guy who could get chase down blocks in transition. He was also very versatile and whenever he was covering a power forward, he made it very hard for them to keep up with him running the floor.

In the halfcourt, Felix was able to get to the rims with straight line drives to either direction. He has a good first step and is an explosive finisher in the lane. When he can, he will finish with an emphatic dunk over the defense. The best thing about his drives are that he knows his limitations. He knows he doesn't have an in-between game or the ability to change directions and weave through opponents. Because of that, he makes very few mistakes. He takes to dribbles to the rim and if the lane is open, he will finish. If not, Felix is perfectly content on kicking the ball back out and does a solid job passing.

He will never be the most creative player or much of a scorer, but he will have a very easy transition to the NBA. What he did at Arizona State is the same thing he will do in the NBA. He won't need to tone down his game at all and teams will never have to question his energy level. They also don't have to worry about his maturity or work ethic.

In terms of shooting the ball, he has made significant strides every single year but still needs to get better. He shot 37.4% from three, up from his two previous rates of 30% and 20%. The adjustment to the NBA 3-pt line will be a concern as he is finally just getting himself accommodated to the college line. A guy like him will need to consistently make shots to be able to play in the NBA and he will likely need to spend time in the D-League until he gets used to the NBA line. He does do a nice job sliding to the short corner behind the arc and hitting those 3s. Felix certainly understands where the most efficient shots are on the court.

His free throwing shooting also isn't a good sign for his overall touch. As I said before, Felix hardly ever shoots a mid-range jumper or any floaters. And his free throw shooting percentage of 65% makes you believe he doesn't even shoot inside the arc during practices. His shooting didn't get better as the season went on either. He shot just 61% from the line in conference play.

Defensively, Felix can be a valuable asset. He is a bouncy athlete with a very high motor. In college, he was able to cover just about any position on the court. He came up with steals and blocks, displayed good hands, and attacked the glass hard for rebounds. Felix has worked on his body over the years too and has added a good amount of bulk. He doesn't have a great build to be a power wing, but he certainly has the mindset. With a nonstop motor, long arms, and a good defensive IQ Felix projects to be an above average defender at the next level.

Overall, Carrick Felix looks to be your prototypical mid to late second round pick. He needed the right system in college to flourish and it will be even more important that he finds a good situation in the NBA. Even with the right situation though, he will need to improve his shooting to even see the court. Still, Carrick Felix is a low maintenance guy who has the motor and maturity teams like at the end of their bench. He won't  have a problem transitioning to a role player in the NBA because he pretty much already is one. Look for him to go to smart team in the 50s. He could turn into a poor man's version of Jimmy Butler down the line.

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