The All-Star case for … DeMarre Carroll

The Hawks’ success this season has been built on a foundation of defense.

DeMarre Carroll is the unquestioned defensive stopper on the team. While his selection to the NBA All-Star game is the longest shot of the Hawks’ starters, a case can be made for the small forward.

Carroll routinely guards the opposition’s top non-big offensive threat. With his versatility, he has guarded point guards, shooting guards and small forwards.

“We talk a lot about the only way we are going to be good is if we are good on both ends of the court,” Hawks coach Mike Budenholzer said. “DeMarre really sets the tone for us defensively, gives us our spirit and our identity. I just think that end of the court isn’t appreciated enough, isn’t given enough accolades and attention. We’ve got a long way to go defensively, but where we are, he plays a huge role in that.”

Carroll makes no secret of his desire to an All-NBA Defensive team.

The All-Star game is known to be an offensive showcase, with scores routinely reach 150 points. So why not throw a little defense into the exhibition?

Carroll does have some noteworthy offensive statistics while earning his pay on the defense.

In 27 games, he has scored in double-figures 19 times. He has averaged 11.5 points per game, the highest total of his five-plus year NBA career. Last season, his first with the Hawks and in a full-time role, Carroll averaged 11.1 points per game.

Carroll set career-highs in points (25), field goals made (9) and 3-point field goals made (5) in a game this season in a victory over the Clippers. Carroll also had 10 rebounds in that game, one off his season high and two off his career high. The 107-104 win over the Clippers marked the first 20-point, 10-rebound game of his career.

Carroll has improved his 3-point shot this season. He ranks 40th in the NBA with a .386 (44 of 114) long-range percentage, the best percentage of his career. In only five of his 27 games has he failed to connect on at least one 3-pointer. He also has 12 games with multiple 3-pointers.

Carroll ranks third on the Hawks, behind Paul Millsap and Al Horford, with 5.7 rebounds per game. Carroll also has averaged 1.3 assists and 1.2 steals. He has only 25 turnovers, ranking him third in the NBA with a 1.28 steals-to-turnovers ratio.

The frontcourt in the Eastern Conference is loaded with top players with LeBron James, Pau Gasol, Carmelo Anthony and Chris Bosh the top four vote-getters in the latest update released by the league. Carroll also is up against two of his prominent teammates in Millsap (13th) and Horford (14th).

“To play the way he does every night, to compete at the level he competes at is very, very unique and special to our team,” Budenholzer said. “He is a huge part of us.”

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