Jordan Caroline is a 6’7” senior forward for the Nevada Wolfpack. Caroline tested the 2018 NBA Draft waters along with teammates Caleb and Cody Martin, all opting to return for their senior seasons. After working out for several teams, Caroline’s most consistent advice from NBA scouts was to continue to work on his three-point shooting and perimeter skills. Caroline took this constructive criticism, applied it to his offseason workouts, and has shown notable progress in these areas on the court this season. Caroline, one of twenty finalists for the John R. Wooden Award, is the heart and soul of the 21-1 Wolfpack and has a chance to improve his cache as a professional prospect throughout Nevada’s pursuit of a deep tournament run in March and April.
Tale of the Tape
Caroline’s thick, sturdy frame is the first thing that catches one’s eye when watching his tape. Despite having shed some weight this offseason in preparation for a more perimeter-oriented role, Caroline has shown no signs of diminished strength or power. His football family roots are more than apparent in his build, physicality, and aggressiveness. What makes Caroline an intriguing prospect, however, is not simply brute force, but his functional application of strength within multiple defensive and offensive contexts.
Defensively, despite being at a frequent length disadvantage against opposing bigs, Caroline has proven capable of utilizing his core strength and lower-body stability to hold his ground in the post. Although not a prominent help-side shot-blocker, Caroline’s strength serves his team well as a physical interior presence bumping cutters and tagging roll men. Caroline also functionally applies his strength defensively as a means to carve out space when battling to close out possessions with contested defensive rebounds.
Offensively, Caroline’s functional strength application manifests itself when attacking the rim as a driver, and on the offensive glass. Though an improved handler this season, Caroline has yet to develop a package of dribble moves or shake off the bounce to create space on the perimeter, so he is typically limited to being a straight-line driver. Despite the inherent disadvantage of having not created space of a balance advantage at the outset of a drive attempt, Caroline’s forcefulness and ability to absorb contact without being bumped off his spots make Caroline a more than capable face-up drive threat.
In the clip below, we highlight Caroline’s functional strength as a straight-line driver, contact finisher, and battling on the offensive glass for putbacks.
Caroline would greatly benefit from supplementing this physical contact-finishing package with improved vision and decision-making as a drive-and-kick and short-roll facilitator as a means to counter help-side rim-protection.
Caroline’s frame bears no hindrance on his vertical explosiveness. Caroline thrives in the paint as a two-foot leaper, and has shown more than adequate bounce off of one foot, as well. His powerful base provides a foundation of a functional second jump, which has been a prominent catalyst of Caroline’s offensive rebounding prowess throughout his career. Caroline is able to quickly shift his momentum and immediately spring back up to the rim to snag offensive boards at their apex and finish putbacks.
This vertical explosiveness also serves as a functional complement to Caroline’s aforementioned strength as a finisher. Caroline’s ability to quickly elevate, in conjunction with his physicality, enable him to finish over longer forwards and centers.
In the clip below, we highlight Caroline’s explosiveness in the paint as he finishes high-flying dunks, secures rebounds, and meets opposing players at the rim.
Caroline’s archetype as strong, high-energy, versatile forward fits the mold of the current trajectory of the ever-evolving modern NBA forward. He has made tangible leaps as a prospect in the holes in his game previously identified by NBA scouts this past offseason. Despite being a longshot as a potential draftee, Caroline is a viable candidate to earn a two-way contract. If he continues on a positive development curve, Caroline has a very real chance of eventually working his way onto an NBA roster, especially if his improvement from deep proves sustainable as a knock-down threat on corner threes.
*Stats courtesy of Synergy Sports and Sports-Reference.com