The 76ers have committed 71 turnovers in their first three preseason games but only one has come from their main distributor.
Rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams has 16 assists and just one lonely turnover, so he has gotten off to a good start in the most important statistical category for a point guard – assist-to-turnover ratio.
“Coach wants us to play real fast and I think you are balancing playing really fast and under control,” Carter-Williams said after Sunday’s practice. “I am trying to play as fast as I can and under control at the same time.”
With so much to learn as a rookie point coach Brett Brown purposely hasn’t drummed into Carter-Williams head the importance of taking care of the ball.
“It’s a great sign,” Brown said about his turnover ratio. “Especially when you don’t have anybody talking to him about it.”
Teammate Spencer Hawes didn’t know of Carter’s lonely turnover, but when told, the veteran forward-center had a natural reaction.
“That’s impressive,” Hawes said.
Hawes then expanded on Carter-Williams growth.
“It’s a big burden they (point guards) have because of having the ball in their hands so much,” Hawes said. “I think he has handled it well and getting more comfortable with the physicality and speed of the game.”
What’s interesting is that Carter-Williams is not only adjusting to the physical play but also the differences between college and the NBA in that aspect.
“In college you could hand-check a little more and when I am out play defense like I did in college the refs are saying watch your hands,” Carter-Williams said. “So on the defensive end you can’t really use your arms and hands as much so in that aspect I think college is more physical but overall the NBA is a lot more physical.”
Carter-Williams has so much to learn, but he’s not over-thinking on the court, and that has contributed to keeping the turnovers down. The Sixers are aware of giving him too much to digest at one time and Carter-Williams is trying to take it all in.
“There is a lot thrown at me” he said.
But he seems to be able to grasp it.
Carter-Williams, who turned 22 on Thursday, hasn’t shot much. He has hit 8 of 19 field goal attempts in the three preseason games.
Running the offense and not turning over the ball are the first two priorities and in such a small sample, Carter-Williams has gotten off to a good start. During his sophomore season at Syracuse he had 136 turnovers in 40 games, an average of 3.4 per contest. It’s an average he is looking to lower in the NBA.
“I had a few turnovers in college and I am trying to get better each and every day, and in practice I have had a few turnovers,” Carter-Willaims said. “I am working on trying to take care of the ball and make smart plays.”
So for it has paid off in a 16-to-1 assist to turnover ratio.