The Philadelphia 76ers made a bold move this past summer when they selected point guard Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick. He had a strong sophomore season at Syracuse University which then led to his first round selection.
Even though he excelled in college, it was unclear as to whether or not he would have success at the professional level. Based on the way he performed in his rookie season, he certainly was able to silence the critics.
Right off the bat, Carter-Williams proved that he had the ability to perform at a high level. In his first ever game against the Miami Heat, he had 22 points, along with 12 assists and 7 rebounds.
Throughout the season he had his ups and downs, but truly showed what he is capable of. Prior to the start of the season, his name was not really discussed when it came to rookie of the year, but it surely is now.
Carter-Williams led all rookies in points per game (16.7), assists (6.3), rebounds, (6.2), and steals (1.9). He became the first rookie to accomplish this since Alvan Adams did it back in 1975-1976.
Rookies usually spend a good portion of their time sitting on the bench and carefully evaluating the game up close. Carter-Williams on the other hand, learned mostly through on-the-job training.
In 70 games this season, Carter-Williams averaged 34.5 minutes and was a key contributor on both sides of the ball. He led the team on offense, but was also able to provide a much needed spark on defense with his pesky play.
The way the Sixers were assembled this year, it almost seemed as if Carter-Williams had been around for a while. With a team full of players who had no NBA experience, it appeared they saw Carter-Williams as a veteran leader, even though it too was just his first season.
He was able to thrive as a leader of the team, but it was not all good for him. Carter-Williams had his struggles during his rookie season as there is still plenty for him to work on.
He made many good decisions on offense, but he also showed his immaturity. Carter-Williams was near the top of the NBA in turnovers per game with 3.5.
This is expected from rookies who are playing at a fast pace, but it is definitely something he is going to have to work on to become an elite NBA point guard. He will continue to learn the value of each NBA possession and how to take better care of the ball.
In addition to the turnover issue, he needs to improve his shooting ability. He is a solid player around the basket, but is an inconsistent jump shooter.
Shooting the three has never been a strong suit for Carter-Williams, and it showed this season. In his 70 games, he shot 208 threes but only converted on 55 of them.
Also, look for Carter-Williams to put on a little more weight in the off-season. He has the height, but lacks the size and strength to overpower most of his opponents.
Heading into the off-season, there were plenty of great aspects of his game that he can continue to build upon. In the final month of his rookie season, he played outstanding basketball averaging 17.6 points per game along with shooting 52.5% from the field.
He should, and more than likely will, win the Rookie of the Year award which will give him a ton of confidence for next season. His supporting cast next year should also be much better, which will help him grow as a player even more.
If he has a productive off-season and does what he needs to do, he should be able to top the numbers he posted this past season. Michael Carter-Williams has earned the respect of NBA players and fans alike and has become a celebrity sports figure in the city of Philadelphia. He now needs to embrace the role he has earned and strive to improve upon his first-year successes.
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