67RIEFNS No. 12: Michael Carter-Williams’ development


The NBA is full of talent, personality and suspense. During the offseason, It’s easy to forget how wonderful the league can be. So, I’ve assembled 67 Reasons I’m Excited For Next Season (67RIEFNS). They’ll be presented in no particular order.

Just 27 players have averaged 16-6-6 in a season. Most of them – by a 2-to-1 margin if you count players not yet eligible but who are locks – are Hall of Famers.

Michael Carter-Williams joined the exclusive 16-6-6 club last season.

Is he a future Hall of Famer?

The 76ers point guard stands out in two ways among the 16-6-6 group:

1. He’s one of only three to hit those marks as a rookie. The other two, Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson, rank among the greatest of all-time greats.

2. He has the lowest PER – 15.5 barely above league average – among the 92 16-6-6 seasons in NBA history.

Why was Carter-Williams’ PER, which I think fairly accurately represented his performance, so low? For one, he barely met the thresholds, averaging 16.7 points, 6.3 assists and 6.2 points per game. He also shot relatively inefficiently, 41 percent from the field and 26 percent on 3-pointers. The 76ers played at the NBA’s fastest pace, giving Carter-Williams plenty of opportunity to accumulate stats.

But even if Carter-Williams was only a tick above average, that’s pretty good for a rookie, and he deserved his Rookie of the Year.

Carter-Williams went No. 11 in the draft – directly behind two other point guards (Trey Burke and C.J. McCollum) who are shorter and less athletic than him. Playing at Syracuse, Carter-Williams showed flaws with his jumper and protecting the ball, and that’s why – despite his higher upside – he slipped behind safer options.

In year one, Carter-Williams showed enough refinement that it’s worth betting on his upside. Just how high that upside is and how close he’ll come to meeting it remain big questions.

Only Giannis Antetokounmpo among potential starting point guards is taller than the 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams. He uses his length well defensively to collect steals, and his potential as a stopper is high. He also sees over defenses, finding opportunities to pass or get to the rim himself.

But his jumper remains suspect, and he hasn’t completely eliminated the turnover concerns. There’s also the possibility his production was somewhat empty on an awful Philadelphia team.

For someone who accomplished so much as a rookie, Carter-Williams could see his career could go a number of directions. His second season should give us a better idea what’s next for the 76ers point guard.