Friday, October 9, 2015

Versatility is key to 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams' game

The most impressive part of Michael Carter-Williams’ game thus far this season has been his versatility.

Versatility is key to 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams' game

Sixers´ Michael Carter-Williams  ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer ).
Sixers' Michael Carter-Williams ( Yong Kim / Staff Photographer ).

The most impressive part of Michael Carter-Williams’ game thus far this season has been his versatility.

Yes, his shooting his been pleasantly surprising - especially from long-range, where many expected him to have extreme struggles. But his calling card has been that versatility. The kid is a walking triple-double waiting to happen. He has yet to record an actual triple-double, despite being a single steal shy in his first game, but the multi-tool talent is there.

There has long been talk of a man of many talents, a la LeBron, averaging a triple-double throughout the course of an entire season; Carter-Williams is the type of player that could come close.

Carter-Williams has already demonstrated that there are four major statistical categories that he could push to double digits on a given night, and as his familiarity with the NBA game increases, so too should his numbers.

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Carter-Williams is averaging 17 points, 7.6 assists, 5.4 rebounds, and 2.6 steals per game so far this season (through 8 games). While that is an exceptionally small sample size, there is no reason to think that with some in-game experience and the addition of some more talented teammates that those numbers can’t increase to the tune of 18, 10, and 8 per; an amazing stat line if sustained.

“The hyphen,” as he has come to be called, has the skill set to be a triple-double threat every time he steps out on the court. In fact, aspects of his game are reminiscent of the ultimate triple-double threat; Jason Kidd.

Like Kidd, Carter-Williams has exceptional size at the point guard position, and uses it to his advantage. With his size, MC-W can see over defenders to make pinpoint passes and get rebounds over smaller guards. He can also control a game without scoring, something Kidd was the king of.  If Carter-Williams’ shot isn’t falling (as will likely be a common occurrence until he develops some shot consistency), he can contribute by hitting the glass, setting up his teammates, and securing steals.  It is this resourcefulness that makes Carter-Williams a threat out on the court, not simply his scoring. Kidd didn’t always win games for his teams by piling in the points, but any GM in the league will tell you how much preparation playing against Kidd required.

Kidd compiled over 100 triple-doubles throughout his career, and while that is a lofty expectation to place on a kid after only a handful of professional games, Carter-Williams’ numbers thus far look extremely similar to Kidd’s numbers from his rookie year:

Jason Kidd (1994-95): 33.8 MPG, .385% FG, 11.7 PTS, 7.7 AST, 5.4 REB, 1.9 STL

Carter-Williams (2013): 36.6 MPG, .389% FG, 17.4 PTS, 7.6 AST, 5.4 REB, 2.6 STL

Their field goal percentage, assists, and rebounds per game are almost identical, while Carter-Williams has the edge in minutes, points, and steals per game. Carter-Williams' stats are from a small sample size, and he must continue his production throughout the course of the season, but some similarities are apparent. Kidd was named Rookie of the Year on the back of that stat line, and if Carter-Williams can keep up his current level of production, he might have that in common with Kidd as well.

Kidd’s improved shooting percentage (.400 for his career after .385 in his rookie season) is a good sign for Carter-Williams, whose own percentage will likely increase when he improves his shot selection. However, like Kidd, it seems that Carter-Williams’ best asset isn’t his scoring, but rather his ability to impact and control a game in several ways.

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