When new general manager Sam Hinkie made a major splash on draft night and traded the Sixers only all-star Jrue Holiday for lottery pick Nerlens Noel, fans all around Philadelphia were furious. After being selected with the 17th pick in the 2009 draft, the 23-year-old point guard was finally showing that he could be the franchise player the Sixers hoped for. Holiday’s future looked bright in Philadelphia to almost everyone. Everyone except Sam Hinkie and his advanced analytics.
With Holiday gone, the Sixers now lacked a franchise point guard once again and it became obvious that team management had their eye on rebuilding. Speculation began to grow as to what the Sixers would do with their lottery pick. Would they draft a point guard? Would they trade their pick along with a player to obtain an all-star? Who would they pair with new franchise center Nerlens Noel?
When the Sixers were finally on the clock, it became apparent who they would select. With the 11th pick in the 2013 draft, the Sixers selected Michael Carter-Williams, the 6’6” point guard from Syracuse University.
Carter-Williams did not come without flaws, however. Throughout his collegiate career, he struggled consistently with his jump shot and his ability to command the floor was questionable due to his high number of turnovers. Despite these shortcomings, the young point guard was drafted with loads of talent and the potential to be the franchise point guard for a long time.
Through the first four preseason games, Carter-Williams has shown glimpses of the talent that Sixers’ fans were hoping to see. In the first game against Bilbao in Spain, Carter-Williams struggled to score, but contributed in other ways. He finished the game with just three points on 1-5 shooting from the field, but had six assists and three rebounds.
The most important statistical number to take away from this first game was zero. Zero represents the amount of turnovers committed by the young point guard. Carter-Williams showed his ability to command the offense and create open shot opportunities for his teammates. He was able to drive the lane and kick out to guys like James Anderson and Evan Turner, who had a monster game with 25 points. His ability to penetrate also allowed him to drop off passes to Thaddeus Young and Spencer Hawes around the basket.
Michael Carter-Williams put on a great a showing in his preseason debut, and he has continued to grow since then. Overall this preseason, the twenty-two year old is averaging eight points, five assists, and nearly four rebounds per game. He has also continued to grow as a floor general by averaging only one turnover per game. If Carter-Williams can continue to take care of the ball for the Sixers, the offense will be able to generate easier scoring opportunities and take away the opponents transition game.
Sixers’ coach Brett Brown has been very pleased with the way his point guard has played and taken care of the ball. Carter-Williams has shown that he can improve his game since he’s been given the keys to the offense. One aspect that he yet to improve on thus far has been his shooting.
Carter-Williams has shot only 41% from the field including a 4-10 shooting performance last night against the Brooklyn Nets. He has been able to get to the rim and finish through contact, but his jump shot consistency continues to be an issue. Behind the arc has been a different story as he has hit six three pointers out of his sixteen attempts, good for 37.5% shooting percentage from deep.
Given his history as an inconsistent shooter and as a turnover prone point guard, it is likely that Carter-Williams will endure the growing pains of being a rookie this season. Under Brett Brown’s run and gun offense, Carter-Williams will have his fair share of struggles, but at the same time have successful moments. The offense being run fits his play style due to his size, speed, and ball handling abilities.
In order for him to have a successful first season, Michael Carter-Williams will need to first and foremost take care of the basketball. He will be in charge of much of the offense and it will be his responsibility to get everyone involved. With a lack of a go to scorer, Carter-Williams will need to spread the ball around and get the ball out in transition for the Sixers to keep up with teams on offense.
If he can develop a more consistent jump shot, it will be a major boost to the Sixers’ offense. Until Nerlens Noel returns from his ACL injury he suffered last year, Evan Turner and Carter-Williams will be the focal point of the offense. They will have to shoulder the load by getting into the paint and converting on short-range jump shots for this team.
Sixers fans will not be able to judge the decision to trade Jrue Holiday in favor Michael Carter-Williams this season. Michael Carter-Williams is a young player that is loaded with talent and has the potential to be a corner-stone of the franchise along with Nerlens Noel. This upcoming season is not about how many games the Sixers win, but rather how their young players like Carter-Williams develop.
Under Brett Brown, Michael Carter-Williams will have every opportunity to succeed in running this offense and show Sixers management and fans that the team made the right decision in making him their new franchise point guard. It’ll be up to the fans to stick with the young point guard and show him their support throughout the season. Stay tuned Sixers fans, it’s going to be a season of ups and downs for the talented young point guard.