2013 NBA Draft – #11: Michael Carter-Williams
In what has become a pivotal evening for the Philadelphia 76ers franchise, the team selected Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th pick in the first round.
“I’m just real, real happy,” Carter-Williams said. “Couldn’t have gone any better. I’m just so blessed and thankful. My family and friends are happy, also. It’s just a dream come true, really.”
Coming into the draft, the Sixers’ roster had holes everywhere, but the one position at which they had an established star was point guard. All that changed this evening, when Philadelphia purportedly traded 23-year-old All-Star Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for Nerlens Noel (the sixth overall pick) as well as a second-round pick in this draft and a first-round pick in 2014.
It is an incredibly risky move by Sam Hinkie, who was just recently named President of Basketball Operations and General Manager.
In Carter-Williams, the Sixers replace Holiday with a long and athletic point guard who, despite some obvious flaws in his game, possesses an undeniable upside. At nearly 6’6, Carter-Williams brings extraordinary length and wingspan to the PG position. This is a huge asset, especially on the defensive end, where he can use that length to hawk smaller defenders and cut down passing lanes all over the floor. He averaged a jaw-dropping 2.8 steals per game last season at Syracuse.
Offensively, Carter-Williams is a terrific ball handler and an excellent passer. Again, he often utilizes his size to see over the top of defenses. He averaged 7.7 assists per game as a sophomore at Syracuse, which ranked third in the nation.
However, Carter-Williams will definitely need to improve his jumper. He shot below 40% from the floor last year and 70% from the free-throw stripe, and knocked down just 29% of the three-pointers he attempted. He was also turnover-prone at times, which he’ll have to work on. In addition, he needs to get stronger to compete on the pro level. At just 180 pounds, he is not yet ready to play 30+ minutes a night in the NBA.
Hinkie’s decisions tonight will have long-lasting ramifications, and we won’t be able to adequately assess the Carter-Williams pick and Holliday trade until years down the road.