At the draft on Thursday, the Cavaliers drafted shooting guard Carrick Felix with the 33rd pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. Since Felix was not really on anyone’s radar for the Cavs to select, projected as a mid-second rounder, I broke down Felix’s game to see what he could potentially bring to Cleveland, if he makes the team.
Tale of the Tape
Name: Carrick Felix
School: Arizona State
Weight: 203 lbs.
Honors: 2013 All-PAC-12 2nd Team
2012-2013 Per Game Stats: 14.6 PPG, 8.1 RPG, 1.6 APG, 1.4 SPG, 1.1 BPG, 50.0 FG%, 37.4 3PT% 66.4 FT%
Felix has a lot to like physically. A 6’6” shooting guard with a good wingspan and decent lateral quickness, Felix projects as a decent defensive player in the NBA. He’s a little lanky, but very strong for a shooting guard, with an explosive 38.5” vertical leap as well. Felix’s athleticism should translate well to the NBA, where he matches up well with most shooting guards and even could see some time at small forward if a team goes small without having too much trouble, thanks to his strength.
Most of Felix’s offense will come in transition and spot-up situations. Predictably with his athleticism, he’s a great finisher and loves to get out on the break and finish at the rim. His three-point shooting isn’t stellar, but he hit on 37 percent from deep this season on about four attempts per game, so he has some potential as an NBA three-point shooter. He’s also a good off-ball cutter and offensive rebounder. However, when it comes to creating offense, Felix isn’t great. He doesn’t really have blow-by speed to get past a defender, and his dribbling skills aren’t great. Because of this, he doesn’t get to the line much, surprising for a guy who loves to attack the basket in transition. His passing skills also leave a lot to be desired. Quite simply, Felix is a complimentary option on offense that will almost exclusively do his damage off the ball.
Felix was the PAC-12′s best perimeter defender last season. Using his size, speed and footwork, he was often the guy defending the other team’s best perimeter scorer, whether it be Allen Crabbe or Shabazz Muhammad. Felix is a little raw on this end in terms of understanding of team defense, but he works well on and off the ball and is great at contesting shots for a wing player. He also rebounds really well on this side of the ball, finishing as the best defensive rebounding guard in the PAC-12. This is the side of the ball where Felix is going to make his most immediate impact, as many believe he’s an NBA-ready defender.
Felix’s journey to the NBA has been a long and winding one. He started out as a junior college prospect, spending two years working to get his grades up before coming to Arizona State. Once there, Felix struggled through his first couple of years at the college level before blossoming into a threat on both ends this past season. There are questions about his potential, as he’s going to turn 23 before the season starts, and you have to wonder whether he will ever become more than a bit piece offensively in the NBA. However, he is a guy who could contribute this season as a defensive player. Also, he’s an insane dunker, finishing second at the Final Four dunk contest, and could see a future in the NBA dunk contest, much like current dunking extraordinaire Jeremy Evans. Here’s the highlights, if you feel like marveling at where he’s taking off from on these dunks.
Think of Felix as the poor man’s Thabo Sefolosha. He’s a similar athlete to Thabo’s profile and does finish better than Sefolosha can. However, they both have similar offensive limitations, and defensively, Sefolosha is about where Felix’s ceiling is. If Felix can develop a better understanding of team D and learn to shoot threes a little better than Sefolosha does, there’s no reason he won’t eventually become an effective rotation guy in Cleveland.
How Does He Fit on the Cavaliers?
I think Felix can certainly make this team. He’s a defense-first prospect, which Mike Brown will like, and simply by his inclusion on the roster, he’s the best or second-best defensive wing on the Cavaliers depending on your feelings toward Alonzo Gee. Offensively, he fits in well as a guy who can slash and hit threes, vital for what looks like it’s going to be a bit of a transition-oriented offense with Igor Kokoskoff at the helm and Irving, Anthony Bennett and Waiters leading the charge. I don’t think it’s out of sorts to expect Felix to play 13-15 minutes a game on the opponent’s best bench wing and be a complimentary option on offense for the Cavs. While I would have rather had Jamaal Franklin, who looks to be this class’s best perimeter defender and ended up going eight picks later to Memphis, Felix should be able to be productive in a Cleveland uniform.