I. Defensive Versatility
Carene has an elite physical profile for a modern NBA Center, standing at 6’9.5” without shoes, with a tremendous 7’5” wingspan and a 9’0.5” standing reach. Carene combines his size and length with his impressive agility, quickness for his size and leaping ability, which allows him to be a defensive stopper on all levels of the floor.
While his physical tools are obviously impressive and allow him to be a difference maker when he’s protecting the rim, Carene also shows great defensive IQ, being quick to read the movement of the opposing offense and react accordingly, positioning himself right in the optimal spot between the ball-handler and the basket. This combination of physical tools, defensive IQ and positional awareness allow him to contest and disrupt shots in a different number of ways.
This quickness to read and react make him an effective help defender at the rim. His impressive straight line speed allows Carene to hedge the ball-handler out of the pick-and-roll and get back to the interior in time to block shots.
Besides his efficiency as a rim protector, Carene is also comfortable as defending away from the basket, being a willing switch defender that really knows how to move his feet in the perimeter. Carene is a disciplined defender that can switch of screens and contain penetration against ball-handlers. His length is definitely a factor when defending in space, not only for getting deflections and steals, but also to force handlers to pick up their dribble, pressuring them into errant passes and turnovers.
Carene has the quickness and mobility to stay in front of drivers, at times being able to pressure them full-court. If he gets caught reaching, he’s quick enough to recover and contest shots at the rim.
It’s impressive how Carene can do everything defensively on the same possession, he can go from containing penetration from guards and wings by being mobile and quick in the perimeter, then timely switch back to defend the post, holding his own and blocking shots against bigger guys.
II. Catch-and-Finish Scoring
Beyond some occasional flashes of touch in the post, Carene’s offense comes mostly from cleaning up misses and catch-and-finish situations at the rim.
As an offensive rebounder, Carene combines his good instincts to find the open space in the paint with his nimbleness that allows him to dodge box outs from opposing defenders.
His impressive measurements allow Carene to finish through length and contact, and his ability to elevate and his speed running in the open court makes him a threat as a lob finisher in transition and as a diver out of the pick-and-roll.
When Carene is forced to create a shot from the post, his biggest strength is his motor and his ability to keep his pivot foot down against pressure. Otherwise, beyond some flashes of touch against contact, he lacks polish in terms of handles and footwork and can turn it over if he’s not able to either overpower his defender or find a kick-out pass.
While Carene’s assist numbers haven’t been exactly eye-popping so far (career 1.4 assists per 36 minutes), his most intriguing offensive quality is his ability to read situations from the post and being quick make passes. While the reads he makes at this point aren’t extremely advanced, Carene is a willing passer and he’s consistent at doing what he’s supposed to do, not forcing bad shots and trusting his teammates to make a play in the perimeter.
Carene can also pass when coming out of a screen, being able to kick the ball out to open teammates if he draws an extra defender when rolling to the rim.
III. Productivity/Statistical Profile
For a player whose main contribution os on the defensive end of the floor, the individual stats for Carene haven’t been what you would expect from a top prospect playing against either FIBA junior level or in the third tier of French basketball.
Carene’s defensive stat lines really pale in comparison to the bigs at the top of the 2020-eligible class, namely Amar Sylla and Aleksej Pokusevski, the latter who despite his weaknesses in terms of switchability, still was able to produce a better defensive statistical output than Carene.
Carene fouls at an outstanding rate (5.9 fouls per 36 this year) and his Block/PF ratio is concerning for a player whose ability to protect the rim is one of his main strengths as a prospect.
Offensively, Carene had some flashes of efficiency, especially when playing against junior level competition, but his biggest sample size comes from his 29 games through the 2018-19 season for CFBB at the French NM1, where he shot 44.8% from the field on 46.3 TS%, both concerning numbers for a player that beyond some flashes of a jumpshot, has been mostly an interior offensive player.
A prospect that scores 6.6 points per 36 minutes on 46.3 TS% on the third tier of French basketball will be a hard sell for many scouts and NBA teams at this point. Beyond the numbers, it’s also hard to be tremendously enticed by Carene’s overall profile, as he’s likely to be labeled as a low-ceiling prospect due to his lack of any type of offensive self-creation.
This doesn’t mean that there’s no value in what Carene brings to the table: the excellent measurements, mobility and mentality to play within his role by not taking bad shots make him an interesting physical outlier who, in order to become a true NBA prospect, needs to be able to replicate on a higher usage role at a better level of competition, the flashes of rim protection, switchability and offensive clean-up duties he has shown at the junior levels.
Author: Ignacio Rissotto (https://twitter.com/eyreball)