Today, we are beginning our player profiles for the 2020-2021 St. John’s Basketball season. The team at SJU Barstool is planning on writing profiles on the key players that will make or break the season under the second year of Head Coach Mike Anderson.
We are beginning the series 23 days before the season and there is no better player to look at with 23 days left than our close personal friend David Caraher (a.k.a. DC23, or White Lightning), as some vocal voices in the student section like to refer to the 6’6 205 pound shooting guard off the St. John’s bench.
DC23’s Tenure at St. John’s So Far
Caraher was one of the most interesting players on the St. John’s roster last year. Although his box score stats may seem pedestrian (4.3-2-1), the role playing shooting guard/small forward was one of only five players to play in all 32 games for St. John’s last year and the team won every game DC played well in. When the former Butler commit and HBU stud scored more than eight points, St. John’s was 8-0 and 3-0 in the Big East. This establishes the causation or correlation question that comes to mind when thinking about Caraher. Does Caraher play better when St. John’s is doing well or does St. John’s play better because Caraher is doing well?
Caraher’s best performance was in the St. John’s comeback win over UMass at Mohegan Sun last in November. DC was 6/8 from the floor with 17 points. His best performance in the Big East was March 7th against Marquette. He was also very good in the March 1st win over top 10 Creighton as he went 4 of 6 from the field for 9 points. Seven of these points came in an explosive first half that set the tempo for the game.
With that being said, I tend to believe Caraher’s best contributions to the team come from momentum and energy as his best performances have come in high energy games that were very competitive. When St. John’s is playing well, Caraher seems more confident and this impacts his best attributes.
Caraher has some of the best spatial awareness of anyone on the St. John’s roster. This can be compounded with his smooth jump shot and competent defense to be his best attributes. He normally works around the perimeter but isn’t afraid to crash the boards which could be seen in his seven rebound affair against Mercer, and five rebounds against Butler on the road. He seems to have an important role in Anderson’s system as his work around the perimeter allows for the ball dominant players to slash or create their own shot. Caraher is better off the ball than on the ball which is not a slight on the player as he is able to have a shot created for him by screens. I think Caraher would work best in a floppy set where multiple big men are setting designed screens to get DC open. It is also important to note Caraher was a net positive on the defensive side of the ball and this can be further improved in Anderson’s system as DC has more exposure to Big East competition and he is now a year older and a year stronger.
Houston Baptist and Shooting
The key criticism of David Caraher is that he shot 25.0 percent from 3 last season. It is simply not good enough. While this was not great, it is important to remember that this was his first season against Big East competition and the strength of schedule at St. John’s is much more difficult than Houston Baptist, where DC shot 36.4% this season. DC is taking intelligent shots but for one reason or another, his efficient shot taking and decision making is not being maximized at St. John’s. His overall shooting percentage was pretty good and ranked high among Big East rookies at 40.3%.
I think the biggest factor to DC’s game this year will be the lack of fans in the bubble season. In the NBA, we witnessed three point shooting percentages go way up in the bubble as there were less distractions and shooters had an advantage. For a team with far less fans at every game than St. John’s 2019-20 schedule, Caraher was a lights out shooter at 45.5% from the field and 36.4% from three. I think this factor can really help Caraher’s confidence this season. An important stat to look at is Caraher’s shooting efficiency numbers which were really good at Houston Baptist but took a dip in his rookie year at St. John’s. On a team that allowed Caraher to take 154 3 pointers, DC was the most efficient player on the roster so this green light could have affected his confidence. If Caraher can be more efficient in this environment, he can be a key piece on St. John’s bench and be one of the best second unit shooting guards in the Big East.
Expectations vs. Reality
As St. John’s fans, there is obviously going to be a bias towards our own players so to predict DC’s 2020-21 season. It will be crucial to use two different lenses to project DC’s season. I think regardless of the result, Caraher will be better in 2020-21 with a possible bubble season. Bubbles have had a positive trend for efficient shooters and Caraher’s game should show improvements with the lack of fans in a potential bubble. Our optimistic prediction for Caraher is 10.2-4.4-2.1 on 44% shooting and 38% from three.The improvement’s to St. John’s roster can help Caraher’s confidence as he will get a good amount of playing time with Dunn or Posh. Both of these players have slashing capabilities which can draw a second defender which can leave DC open for an intelligent shot.
It is on Caraher to ensure these shots go in but in a bubble season, it looks more likely than not that Caraher’s shot will improve. If Caraher is playing to this project, St. John’s final win projection can increase by 3 or 4 games.
In a more cynical sense Caraher can show slight improvements and be a 6.8-2.5-1.2 player on around 42.1% from the floor and 32% from three. This result can stem from a lack of minutes with some tremendous new guard depth coming in through Posh, McGriff and Cole. This lack of minutes could have a negative effect on Caraher’s confidence and lead to poorer shooting. Overally, DC is definitely an interesting player and a key player off St. John’s bench this season and we are extremely excited to see his development after a strong end to the 2019-20 season.