Although Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim said Friday during an interview on 97.5 The Fanatic that his former point guard, and recent Sixer selection, Michael Carter-Williams can’t really be compared to any current player due to his rare combination of size and speed, we are going to try anyway.
While his game may not cleanly compare to one other individual, you can see traits of others reflected throughout his game, some good, and some not as promising.
The sheer size he brings to the point guard spots reminds me of one of the premier players to ever play the position; Magic Johnson.
Important to note: Before I am crucified by commenter’s, I am not suggesting that Carter-Williams will be nearly as good or successful as Magic, I am simply stating that size-wise they are similar.
While Magic was closer to 6’9’’ and Carter-Williams stands at a solid 6’6’’, like Magic Carter-Williams has the ability to see over most opposing point guards, allowing him advanced court vision and view.
While the height is helpful, you have to be able to utilize it, and Carter-Williams, like Magic, is a pinpoint passer, as he averaged 7.4 assists per game at Syracuse last season.
While he said he sees himself as a point guard on the offensive end, he has the ability to defend multiple positions on the defensive end, adding to his versatility.
Magic Johnson isn’t the only NBA all-star I see flashes of in MC-W, as parts of his game really remind me of current Celtics star, Rajon Rondo, and not just the fact that neither can shoot consistently. Like Rondo, Carter-Williams has an extremely quick first step and can get into the lane at will, often ending a possession with an assist. While he needs to develop his decision-making, he is still very young, and this should improve with experience. His proclivity for steals on the defensive end is also reminiscent of Rondo, as is his rebounding ability at the point guard position.
Not all comparisons are as promising as Magic Johnson or Rajon Rondo, however. Another comparison that is almost impossible to ignore is Shaun Livingston, who Carter-Williams resembles in size and ability. Neither can shoot exceptionally well, but both have the benefit of size and speed. Carter-Williams is a more dedicated defender, and still has the ability to improve his shot. The fear here however is that, like Livingston, Carter-Williams may be balanced, but not dominant enough at individual aspects to lead a team, like the Sixers clearly intend for him to do. While Livingston has had a long NBA career because he is multi-talented, he has bounced around to several teams without ever developing into a true difference-maker; and it is safe to say that it not what the Sixers want from Carter-Williams.
While there is certainly still uncertainty, some aspects of Carter-Williams game compare favorably to some of the league’s elite. It will of course depend on his development, but Carter-Williams seems ready to put in the work, and excited for the opportunity.