The Atlanta Hawks are off to a bumpy start in the playoffs. After going 60-22 in the regular season and earning the No. 1 seed in the East, Atlanta is 5-3 in the postseason, taking six games to beat a lethargic Brooklyn Nets team and splitting two home games against the Washington Wizards. During the regular season, the Hawks beat teams with their depth and consistency, but those factors still haven’t translated to the postseason.
Carroll was taken by Memphis with the 27th pick in 2009 out of Missouri, where he was a staple for its basketball program. He was a college basketball fan favorite because of his aggression, tenacity and willingness to do whatever it takes to win. Those skills are coveted by NBA teams, but they’re not what makes a player an All-Star.
Carroll has been in the league six years and has already played for five teams. He was barely able to crack a rotation his first four years in the league, miscast as a power forward and used more or less as a body to throw at bigs off the bench.
Prior to joining the Hawks before the 2013-2014 season, Carroll was 27-95 from three and didn’t play more than 16.8 minutes per game in his career. Under coach Mike Budenholzer, Carroll has finally been let loose, and he has found himself as a player. In Coach Bud’s offense, Carroll went from a tweener power forward to a traditional swingman, boasting a versatile skillset. He had an underrated regular season, averaging 12.6 points while shooting 48.7 percent from the field, and he made 120 three-pointers while shooting 39.5 percent from deep, all career bests.
While most of his teammates are working through slumps, Carroll is playing the best basketball of his life in the playoffs.
Carroll is averaging 18.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 2.6 assists while shooting 55.6 percent from the field and 46.5 percent from three in eight playoff games. He has scored at least 20 points in six straight games and has scored at least 17 points in every game but one this postseason. He leads the Hawks in scoring, field goal percentage, three-point percentage and PER. (21.26) His 68.4 true shooting percentage leads the team by 8.9 percent.
Once on the fringe of being cut from the league, Carroll has expanded his game and his career by developing a three-point jumper and playing tough as nails on the defensive end.
Carroll is one of the best corner three-point marksmen in the league, shooting 46 percent from the left corner and 43 percent from the right corner during the regular season, per NBA.com. Nearly all of Carroll’s shots came from deep or at the rim, with 46.7 percent of his shots coming from behind the arc and 41 percent at the rim.
Carroll has kept up that trend in the postseason.
Per Synergy, Carroll is scoring 1.40 points per possession in transition to lead the team and 1.19 PPP in spot-up plays in the playoffs, which only trails Pero Antic on the team. Along with his ability to check the opposing team’s top wing player, Carroll has understated value for the Hawks going forward. If Carroll keeps up his hot play and stays consistent, all Atlanta needs to return to regular season form is have Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver and others follow his lead.
Looking even past that, Carroll is set to be an unrestricted free agent this offseason. He has earned himself some coin with his playoff play, and there’s no doubt the Hawks will try and keep their versatile swingman around for the long haul.