Noah Carter made up the other half of the curly-headed members of Missouri’s basketball team, with Ben Sternberg as his partner in crime. They were known for being some of the more entertaining members of the team, and for Carter, his off-court energy always seemed to carry over to the floor.
Dennis Gates recruited Carter from Northern Iowa to provide some size and physicality to the roster. The 6-foot-6, 235 lb. forward did that and then some in his first season with Mizzou, all with a smile on his face.
From his 28-point outing against Penn to his 7-for-10 shooting performance against Ole Miss to close the regular season, let’s take a look back at what Mr. Carter accomplished this season.
Noah Carter | By the Numbers
- 1.505 Points Per Possession
That’s what Carter produced every time he put a shot up around the rim. That led the SEC and ranked in the 94th percentile nationally, per Synergy. The issue is opportunities. The Northern Iowa transfer’s volume of at-rim touches was roughly a quarter of heavier-usage big men. Part of that is the structure of Mizzou’s offense, but it’s also imperative on Carter at times to find more chances to bury smaller players on post-ups or drive slower-footed bigs. Even if that boost in volume leads to a slight dip in efficiency, Carter’s shown he can max out prime touches — and ease some of the workload on a player like Kobe Brown.
Noah Carter | On/Off Splits | 2022-23
|PPS - RIM
|PPS - Mid
|PPP - 3FGA
|PPS - RIM
|PPS - Mid
|PPP - 3FGA
Calling Carter underrated is a stretch. Watch MU long enough, and you can see that he fills needs on this roster. He can space out and hold the sideline as a shooter. You can use him as a facilitator in elbow and point series actions. Or you can simply have him post up, punch the ball inside, and let him play over his left shoulder.
Reviewing on/off splits, however, only underscores that importance.
When Carter’s on the floor, the Tigers see their net rating jump by 15.4 points per 100 possession, per Pivot Analysis. The only player with a greater impact? Kobe Brown.
We’ve alluded to that impact when reviewing Mohamed Diarra and Ronnie DeGray III. Using those two at the five spot means MU can’t dip into Carter’s substantial toolbox on the offensive end. And using a nominally bigger body in Diarra didn’t magically resolve the Tigers’ rebounding and rim protection issues.
This season, Carter improved his performance as a catch-and-shoot threat from deep by three percentage points. And coming into the year, we wondered whether his stellar efficiency as a rim finisher would translate to the SEC from the Missouri Valley. It did. And then some.
Basically, whatever deficiencies Carter might have had from being a smaller defender were wiped out by being a borderline elite play finisher.
Noah Carter | Top-5 Lineups | 2022-23
No other SEC front court duo was as efficient as Carter and Brown, finishing the season with a 17.2 adjusted efficiency margin.
When they paired up, the question was whether MU could optimize its backcourt to complement them. That's driven home in the chart above. As long as you kept Hodge and Gholston on the floor, the offense tended to hum, which makes sense given that Nick Honor and Sean East II tended to start a set and then play off the ball.
If you had to use East to give someone a rest, it was probably a good idea to sit Hodge, who wasn’t asked to do much creatively with the ball in his hands. By contrast, East was at his best when he could push the pace in transition or use ball screens to hunt for floaters in the half-court. Meanwhile, Honor and Carter still offered enough shooting to keep spacing balanced.
Quite honestly, though, we’re splitting hairs here. Four of the lineups listed above were elite offensively — enough to overcome a defense that ranked among the weaker outfits among high-majors. We’ll have to see how the rest of the offseason shakes out, but keeping Carter in the fold is coup for this staff.
Like many other players on this Missouri roster, Carter was a fairly streaky scorer. His 28-point performance against Penn in the second game of the season set the bar pretty high for what Carter could do, and he was never able to reach it again.
Still, Carter was a guy that seemed to provide a spark for the offense when it needed it most. He has a pure shot that forced opposing big men to step out to the perimeter to guard him, allowing him to fly by them for a thunderous finish.
After he struggled during the beginning of SEC play, Carter was able to find his shooting touch again at the end of the season. He scored in double-figures in seven of the Tigers’ last eight games after hitting that mark in only one of the previous nine outings.
Early in the season, Carter was a player who scored from behind the arc or by dunking with very little in-between. Towards the end, it became clear that the UNI-product had developed more confidence in his post-up ability, and he got his hook shot working down the stretch.
Carter was also a respectable passer and was never selfish with the ball, highlighted by his 5-assist performance against Utah State in Round 1 of the NCAA Tournament.
Carter was playing undersized for much of the season, but all in all, he did a great job at being physical in the paint. Foul trouble plagued him at times early in the season, but Carter managed to hold his own down low for the most part.
However, his rebounding numbers do leave much to be desired. Carter never recorded more than eight rebounds in a game, and he only hit that mark twice (both in November). It’s hard to ask much more out of a 6-foot-6 player that is giving up 3-4 inches in height per game, but with his athleticism and high-motor, Gates would have liked to see Carter complement Kobe Brown better on the boards.
Carter certainly contributed in the steals and blocks categories as well, but it was rare that he jumped off the screen on the defensive end.
First and foremost, Carter brought passion and energy to this roster, and that is something that cannot be taught. Whether it was a powerful dunk or a pivotal 3-pointer, Carter always managed to ignite the Mizzou Arena crowd with his visible intensity.
The Dubuque, Iowa native managed to remain a fairly consistent contributor on this team despite being in and out of the starting lineup throughout the season. Carter could heat up at a moment’s notice from behind the arc, and his range seemed to expand as the year went on. He did all he could to play bigger than he was against opposing 4s and 5s, and he even became a solid post-presence for this team at times.
Against Penn, Wichita State, Vanderbilt and Rd. 2 with Ole Miss, Missouri likely would have lost without Carter’s contributions.
It was also easy to tell how much Gates trusted him down the stretch of the season. Carter played 27 or more minutes in the Tigers’ final five games, a mark he only hit three other times during the season.
The main gripes with Carter would be the rebounding struggles and his lull in overall play from December to mid-February. Still, the impacts he had on this team both on and off the floor more than outweighs the negatives.
Noah Carter | Overview
With Brown’s status up in the air, it remains to be seen what kind of role Carter takes on next season, as he recently announced that he would be returning.
That makes him one of the most experienced members of the team and a guy that Gates places a lot of trust in. Carter figures to remain a quality perimeter threat on the offensive end, but the next step in his game would be to develop a reliable arsenal of high and low post moves. If Brown departs, the competition would be wide open for who does the dirty work in the paint next season. To win that job, Carter will need to develop his game in the painted area.
On top of that, Gates will likely challenge him to become a more effective rebounder over this offseason. Whether that comes by adding more muscle, becoming more athletic or studying the art of rebounding more, Carter will need to be a 6+ rebounds per game player for this team to have success next season.
Overall, everything is there for Carter to be one of the main contributors on this roster in 2023-24. If he can maintain his perimeter shot while adding more into his offensive duffel bag, the curly-headed big-man could challenge for All-SEC honors next season.