I know. Too soon.
It has been less than a year since the Phoenix Suns traded Jevon Carter and the 29th overall pick in the 2021 NBA Draft – who became Day’Ron Sharpe – to the Brooklyn Nets for shooting guard Landry Shamet. While the returns for Landry have been less-than-stellar, Jevon has had one start in 45 games for the Nets, scored a total of 151 points, and played 532 minutes.
As much as I loved being a fanboy of Jevon Carter – and how could you not be with those different colored shoes – the reality of his performance on the court overshadowed the man he was off of it. There were aspects of his game that were not productive enough to keep him rostered. In his final season in Phoenix, he averaged 4.1 points and 1.0 assists in 12 minutes played, appearing in 60 games.
When the playoffs came around, we saw Carter only 7 times during the Suns NBA Finals run. He averaged just 3.1 minutes as he was relegated to mop up duty.
To this day he continues to be a great teammate. While attending a Sacramento Kings versus Brooklyn Nets game recently (James Harden’s last in a Nets uniform mind you, as he poured in 4 points), I noticed Jevon is still who always has been: the first guy off of the bench during every timeout to greet his teammates and give them high fives and praise.
He has never lacked attitude or effort. His defensive intensity was apparent everytime he took on a defender for the full 91 feet. His dedication to his craft was seen as he;d be hoisting up shots on the court during post game shows, continuing to fine tune his stroke in hopes that it would translate to the court. After shooting 42.5% from deep in 2019-20, it fell to 37.1% in 2020-21. Not horrible. But not good enough to keep, either.
When the opportunity came, the Suns traded Jevon away. While we hurt inside, we chose not to show it. It made sense. We wished him well and moved on.
And then the Suns traded for Aaron Holiday.
Aaron, the youngest of the Holiday brothers, chose to don the jersey #4 just as Jevon had. And I began to feel things again. It just three games, the realization is that Aaron Holiday is everything that Jevon Carter was: a dedicated defender, a three-point popper, and (by all accounts) a quality teammate.
But Aaron possesses something Jevon never did. He is a playmaker.
Sure, the sample size in the purple and orange is small, but we are already seeing the makings of someone who did what Jevon just couldn’t do: see the floor and set up teammates.
You can feel it. You can see it. But tis there any merit to this argument, or am I just falling in love with a short guy wearing #4 all over again?
Jevon Carter averaged 1.3 assists in his 14.1 minutes played with Phoenix over 118 games. In the per-36 scope, which I know plenty of people hate, that came out to 3.4 assists per-36. I find value in looking at it through that lens, however, because it shows you how often his playmaking would be extrapolated over that time frame.
Need more advanced metrics to understand Carter’s playmaking, or lack thereof? Let’s use BBall-Index as our guide. Last season, Jevon received a C for ‘playmaking talent’, which is – put on your nerd glasses for this one – BBall Index’s “overall Playmaking talent grade, which factors in Passing Creation Volume, Passing Efficiency, Passing Spread, Passing Creation Quality, and Scoring Gravity.” He was in the 50%tile in the league.
Aaron Holiday? He graded out at an A- last season and was in the 83%tile. Hashtag upgrade.
Beside possessing more hair that Jevon could ever dream of (I can make that joke as I am a follicly challenged individual myself), he has the ability to run the offensive attack for the Suns in a way Jevon never could.
If we’re being honest here (and I believe we are…we’re all friends, right?) he could eat into Elfrid Payton’s minutes as we saw in the game against the Houston Rockets.
Payton has been running the show with Cameron Payne out with a wrist injury since January 24. Prior to the Wednesday night close call against Houston, Payton had averaged 14 minutes in the 12 games without Payne. He averaged 3.8 points and 3.2 assists. That’s 8.2 per-36 assists for my mathematically inclined readers. But he also averaged 1.2 turnovers (yes, 3.1 per-36) and 38.5% from the field.
Oh, and don’t forget ‘hack-an-Elf’. The Milwaukee Bucks had no issue sending him to the line in an effort to steal points in the third quarter of that game. Why? Because on the year he is 39.3% from the line.
Aaron Holiday, conversely, is an 80% free throw shooter this season.
Will I go as far to say that Aaron Holiday is the permanent answer behind Chris Paul? No. Cameron Payne has earned that and, now that Holiday has arrived, the need for his return is no longer urgent. Payne can take all the time he needs to get ready for a deep playoff push for the Phoenix Suns.
Am I saying give Holiday all of Elfrid Payton’s minutes? Hell yeah I am! He is everything I wanted Jevon Carter to be!