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NBA PM: Carter-Williams Takes 76ers’ Reins
Posted By Alex Kennedy On October 21, 2013 @ 5:00 pm In NBA | No Comments
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Carter-Williams Takes the Reins in Philly
Unlike many of the rookies in this year’s NBA draft class, Michael Carter-Williams will be handed the reins and a starting job from day one of his NBA career. Not only is Carter-Williams the Philadelphia 76ers’ point guard of the future, he’s their point guard of the present.
The 11th overall pick in the draft will have every opportunity to succeed in Philly, leading a young core that also includes Thaddeus Young, Evan Turner, Nerlens Noel, Lavoy Allen and Spencer Hawes – all of whom are 25 years old or younger. While the 76ers may not win many games this year, it’ll be an excellent chance for Carter-Williams to develop as a point guard and prove himself as a rookie.
“I’m really excited,” Carter-Williams said in a phone interview. “This is a dream come true for me. That’s really the only way that I can explain just how excited I am. … We’re just looking to find an identity, and play hard each and every night. It’s good [having young teammates]. We have young legs and hopefully we can sustain a good pace and be a running team throughout the season.”
Because Carter-Williams will be in the starting lineup and have the ball in his hands more than his peers, he believes he has a good chance to win this season’s Rookie of the Year award. It’s certainly a possibility, considering Trey Burke of the Utah Jazz and C.J. McCollum of the Portland Trail Blazers sustained serious injuries prior to the start of the season while Anthony Bennett of the Cleveland Cavaliers and Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic among others are expected to come off of the bench.
Last season, Portland Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard took home the Rookie of the Year honors, mainly because he started all 82 games and played 38.6 minutes per night. Now, Carter-Williams is expected to be in a similar situation.
“I think I have a pretty good chance at it,” Carter-Williams said of winning the Rookie of the Year award. “I’m just going to go out there and play my game and hope for the best. I’m not really thinking about the numbers that I need to get to win Rookie of the Year or anything like that. I’m just going to go out there and do the best that I possibly can.”
The young floor general is very confident as he begins his NBA career. Carter-Williams has stated on a number of occasions that he believes he can be great, and possibly one of the best point guards in the league.
“I think I can be as good as I want to be,” Carter-Williams said. “It’s just a matter of how much work I put in. I know what I need to do and I’m going to put in the work, so hopefully I can be great.”
Carter-Williams’ height gives him an advantage over just about every point guard he’ll face. The rookie stands at 6’6 and has an 8’5 standing reach. He realizes that his size and length can make him a match-up nightmare if used correctly.
In college, it allowed him to dominate many opposing point guards. He averaged 7.3 assists per game (and had 11 games with 10 or more assists, including a 16-assist performance) and 2.7 steals per game (with 12 games with four or more assists). He’s hoping to have the same success in the NBA.
“Having my height advantage, I have to use it the right way,” Carter-Williams said. “I have to use my size. On defense, I need to use my height and length. On offense, I need to use it to use it to create passing angles and create shots.”
When Carter-Williams hit his growth spurt, he easily could have switched to another position. However, he was a late bloomer and spent most of his life as a small point guard. As a freshman in high school, he was 5’10 and had no choice but to play the one. It wasn’t until late in his sophomore year and early in his junior year that he became taller than typical point guards. At that point, he had already developed point guard skills and fell in love with the position, so he wanted to remain a floor general.
“I think it’s just my natural position,” Carter-Williams said of playing point guard. “I played the position well so I wanted to continue to play it and excel.”
This offseason, Carter-Williams has been training in Philadelphia and trying to strengthen his ballhandling and shooting. Last year at Syracuse, he averaged 3.5 turnovers per game and shot just 39.3 percent from the floor and 29.4 percent from the college three – numbers that were often brought up during the pre-draft process. Carter-Williams is trying to improve those aspects of his game.
“I’ve really been focusing on improving all my skills – my dribbling and shooting – as well as getting bigger and stronger,” Carter-Williams said.
While the transition from college to the NBA can be difficult for rookies, one thing that will make Carter-Williams’ adjustment easier is the fact that he has a close friend in the locker room. Noel, who is also a rookie, is one of Carter-Williams “best friends” and the two have known each for years. When they were young, they teamed up on the same AAU team. They played for the Boston Amateur Basketball Club, where they were coached by Leo Papile. Carter-Williams and Noel were ecstatic on draft night when they found out that they’d be reuniting in Philadelphia.
“It’ll definitely make the transition easier,” Carter-Williams said of playing with Noel. “We have a lot of chemistry together and we’ve been through a lot of ups and down. It’ll definitely help having him with me.”
Carter-Williams will have his work cut out for him as he begins his NBA career, as he’ll face a number of elite point guards early in the season. In his first month in the league, he’ll be matched up against Derrick Rose, Stephen Curry, Kyrie Irving (twice), Tony Parker, John Wall (twice) and Jrue Holiday (twice) among others. The following month includes match-ups against Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Damian Lillard, Ricky Rubio, Ty Lawson and Steve Nash among others. However, the rookie isn’t backing down from the challenge; he’s excited to face off against the best players in the world.
“I’m excited to play against all of them and [test] my skills,” Carter-Williams said. “It’s very challenging, but it’s great because it’s a chance to test yourself and get better every night.”
Carter-Williams hopes to join that group of elite point guards and become a player that other floor generals worry about facing. With his height, skill set and work ethic, it’s certainly possible.
Veterans Upset in Boston
When NBA veterans are forced to play on a young team that’s rebuilding, they tend to get upset with the losses and growing pains that their teammates face. That seems to be what’s happening on the Boston Celtics, where Gerald Wallace and Jeff Green recently voiced their displeasure with their teammates’ effort and approach.
“Guys are out there being selfish, and their opponents are playing with effort, giving their all regardless of how the night is going,” Wallace said, according to CSNNE. “Tonight we ran into another team that wanted the game more than we did. And they came and played like it. We had some good spurts, but when it came down to it they were determined to win the game and we [weren't].
“Veteran, rookie, whatever you want to call it. I was always taught, you can’t teach effort. And you can’t teach somebody how to give effort. They either got it or they don’t. … We’re professionals. So our main thing is, you should go out every night and want to win. It shouldn’t be a question of the effort. You’re going to miss shots. You’re going to turn the ball over. Things aren’t going to go your way. But it shouldn’t be because you’re not playing hard, you’re not giving your all. … We got what, one more preseason game before this thing really starts up? So if guys think they can wait until the Toronto game [on Oct. 30] and turn the switch on, it’s not that easy in this league. You have to start building yourself up, get some momentum going into it. We’re not doing that right now.”
“They just wanted it more than us, plain and simple,” Green said. “We can’t allow teams to play harder than us. … We need to bring it now. Preseason or not, we gotta come ready to play. We can’t come into this thinking we can half-ass it. We have to be ready to play because teams are getting geared up for the regular season.”
The Celtics are now 1-6 in preseason play. With Wallace and Green questioning the effort of teammates – and Wallace taking it one step further and saying that his teammates are “being selfish” – things aren’t looking good in Boston. It looks like it’s going to be a long season for the Celtics.
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