Michael Carter-Williams has heard his name mentioned as a potential Rookie of the Year since his first professional performance.
It was October 30th when Carter-Williams burst out of the gate and hung 22, 12, 9, and 7 on the defending champion Heat in his NBA debut.
Shortly after the rookie’s impressive inaugural performance came to a close, NBA legend Magic Johnson sent out a Tweet stating that he had just watched who he believed would be the NBA’s ROY in MC-W.
It was high praise for the former Syracuse sophomore, especially coming from someone as exalted as Magic Johnson, and especially after only a single game.
Maybe Magic saw some of himself in the long, lanky guard.
A season’s schedule later, Carter-Williams is still piling up the production, and he is still being mentioned as the top target for the NBA’s best newcomer award (although he does have his detractors).
In the team’s last home game on Monday evening, Carter-Williams put on a performance reminiscent of his debut, dropping 21 points, 14 rebounds, and 6 assists. After the game, he was asked if he remembered Johnson’s Tweet proclaiming him the Rookie of the Year.
“Of course,” he replied. “That is something that I will never forget. It was a great compliment, and it was greatly appreciated.”
Carter-Williams’ season was book-ended by impressive home performances, and while his play in-between was far from perfect, there were a lot of positives, and a whole lot of production.
Carter-Williams leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists, steals, minutes, and double-doubles. That statistical domination alone deserves the award. Carter-Williams was asked to do more, and was statistically better than all other rookies this season.
Carter-Williams detractors, mainly those who feel Orlando’s Oladipo to be more deserving, point to the Sixers’ pace as a plus for MC-W. They argue that more possessions equal more production, which is a valid argument. However, Carter-Williams PER, which factors in pace-of-play, is still nearly two points higher than Oladipo’s; 15.69 to 13.77.
Still, despite the dominance he has displayed on the court, Carter-Williams doesn’t show any sense of entitlement when it comes to the award.
“I hope so,” he replied when asked if he thought that he was the NBA’s Rookie of the Year, before giving credit to his coaches and teammates.
“[They’ve] done a great job of putting me in that position [to win the award]. My teammates have been great, my coaches have been great. I’m fortunate enough to have playing time. Coach entrusted me and my team entrusted me.”
Carter-Williams has delivered on that trust, showing development and a sense of poise rare for a rookie.
Asked what it would mean to win the award, Carter-Williams remained city, and team-oriented.
“It would be great for the team, great for the city, just to bring some positivity.”
With his play, Carter-Williams has brought some hope and positivity to the city even without an award, but that doesn’t make him any less deserving of one.