Looking at the NBA standings, the Philadelphia 76ers (17-60) are neither a playoff nor a championship contender. Even before the season ends soon, the Sixers are automatically out of the playoff picture. That shows clearly that the Sixers need more assistance–improving this roster and getting players who can bring Philadelphia home victories.
Yet, there is a big and athletic point guard that people should keep an eye on for the future: it is Michael Carter-Williams, a 6’6″ and 185 pounds. Despite the fact that he is on a bad team, he still has a fine rookie season. He is averaging at least 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists per game. Individually, he is living up to the rookie hype. He is the version of former young talented point guard named Anfernee “Penny” Hardaway.
Those statistics of the NBA guard is moderately respectable. Carter-Williams, 22, is playing this season to prove that he is the future of the Philadelphia Sixers.
Originally attending Syracuse University–a program that is well-known for zone defense– to play college basketball under coach Jim Boeheim, as a sophomore year, Carter-Williams averaged 12 points, 7.3 assists, and 2.7 steals on 39 percent from the field goal, 29 percent from three-point line, and 64 percent from free-throw line. He was not a great scorer, but he was a point guard who successfully conveyed his teammate advance to the Final Four last year.
Carter-Williams left Syracuse for the 2013 NBA Draft. During the pre-draft process, some scouts said a Syracuse product was unselfish point guard who had the ability to obtain his teammates involved, but questioned about his shooting ability. That created scouts wonder, “How could a shaky shooter make an impact in the NBA?”
Eventually, the Sixers drafted Carter-Williams in the first round with 11 overall pick. Boeheim said of him via Orlando Sentinel: “He does everything. He is a good defender. He is a very good passer. In the NBA, if you’re 6 feet and you’re a point guard, you’ve really got to be special. It’s difficult at that size. He has a size to become a great player. I don’t think he is that far away. When his shooting gets better, he’ll be a great player in the NBA.” Boeheim is right. The Sixers are confident that that he has a potential to be a good player in the NBA for a long time.
With the Sixers this season, an exciting point guard proves that he can score at will and obtains his teammate involved. Remarkably, Carter-Williams has already received the NBA Player of the Month awards three times, which becomes the first player in franchise history to win the awards. In an opener game, he scored 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals, and seven rebounds in a 114-110 victory over the Miami Heat, which caught a big legend Magic Johnson’s attention.
Magic Johnson tweeted: “I just got done watching the guy I think will be the Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams of the 76ers.”
According to the Sixers head coach Brett Brown, he was impressed with Carter-Williams’ understanding and knowledge for the game of basketball. Brown says he constantly has the intelligent questions to ask the coach regarding the other point guard and game circumstances.
“He asks highly intelligent questions about other point guards and game situations,” Brown told Sean Deveney of the Sporting News. “There is a quiet competitiveness that I misjudged. I used to give a kick all the time, to say we need you to get going, we need you to get tougher, we need you to lead us. He slowly started doing that. I think he is slowly starting to understand that. In my opinion, that’s the endgame, big-picture for him on how far he can go. Can he embrace the physicality and toughness of the NBA? And I say, yes, he can. And so I think his upside is just extremely high.”
The only problem with the Sixers is that, since this team is losing, there was no leadership quality surrounding Carter-Williams on the team. The Sixers’ worst record in the NBA shows clearly that the Sixers need at least a star player and a great leader (whom Carter-Williams can learn from) who can bring victories as many games as they possibly can. The Philadelphia fans, which have a reputation for being the toughest and meanest fans of all times, can’t afford to go home with the loss.
Unfortunately, the Sixers have two injured players who are currently out of the season; it is Jason Richardson and Nerlens Noel.
The Sixers guard Richardson, an NBA veteran who has a good basketball career, has the ability to provide his leadership quality to a young team like the Sixers. Without him on the floor, it is hard to answer who is the leader of the team. With Richardson out, Carter-Williams is playing as though he accepts leadership responsibility this season. It is at least a good start for him as a rookie.
Noel, a rookie center whom the Sixers acquired him in a trade of Jrue Holiday, is also out of season due to knee injury since his college day at Kentucky. Noel will most likely return next season. Carter-Williams and Noel should be good dynamic duos next season. It will be fascinating to watch them play together when the 2014-2015 season starts.
If Carter-Williams want to earn respect from the NBA personnel, they need to build relationship with them. Smartly, Brown emboldens him to learn referees’ name in order to develop relationship with them during the game of basketball. He has the chance to earn league’s respect by developing relationship with the referees. In order to remember referees’ names, he posted the pictures of referees’ face on the locker.
That’s interesting, isn’t it?
During the off season, the soon-to-be-second-year point guard will start working out this summer, trying to improve everything in order to become a great player and a winner. Most essentially, he needs to work on improving his shooting ability to vanquish his defender from anywhere. Clearly, he has a size advantage to overcome the mismatched guards in the NBA.
If Carter-Williams, in a long term goal, wants to be a great player and winner, which he mentioned in a HoopHype interview, he needs to get some assistance on the roster. Winning the NBA championship is the ultimate goal for him and the Sixers in the future. The Philadelphia or national sports journalists/reporters are certainly looking forward to seeing what he will bring to the table next season.
Although Carter-Williams has a rough season, he is developing to be a good leader and a better point guard in the league. He has the brightest future. He can eventually become an NBA star one day. He is a young point guard, but the Sixers are counting on him to assist the team become the winners. They will probably get the lottery pick this year’s NBA Draft so it will benefit him next season. Keep an eye on him in the east coast.
[Photo: Associated Press]