Michael Carter-Williams is young in basketball terms. The 76ers' rookie point guard is a wide-eyed pup who has had limited veteran guidance this season.
The 22-year-old still has a lot to learn, and the hard-knock lessons have piled up at times. Sixers coach Brett Brown and his staff have been racking their brains, trying to figure ways to help ease his growing pains.
Perhaps the best option is bringing in a 10- to 12-year veteran point guard this offseason to help nurture the rookie-of-the-year favorite.
Guard Jason Richardson and power forward Thaddeus Young are the only Sixers with more than six years of NBA experience. And Richardson has been inactive all season while he rehabilitates after a left knee injury. The rest of the ever-changing roster is made up of six rookies, four second-year players, and a third-, a fourth-, and a fifth-year veteran.
So Carter-Williams hasn't had the luxury of looking over at the bench for guidance from a knowledgeable, veteran point guard.
"He has to play through his mistakes," Young said. "I think that's the biggest thing. He has to adapt and get through it just by playing, continue to play and continue to watch game film, continue to break down certain situations on the court. And he's done a good job."
It's hard to argue that Carter-Williams hasn't had a successful rookie campaign.
The 6-foot-6, 185-pounder leads all rookies in scoring (16.7 points per game), assists (6.3), rebounds (6.1), and steals (1.9). He's on pace to join Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson as the only rookies to average at least 16 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists. And Carter-Williams is the first Sixer to be named Eastern Conference rookie of the month three times.
But he is far from a finished product.
Although he is trying, Carter-Williams still needs to work on his body language on the court and not worry about referees' calls. He has to gain strength and improve on his shooting and pick-and-roll defense. CarterWilliams also needs in-house mentorship during what the Sixers hope is his transformation into an all-star-caliber player.
"That's definitely something I would like," Carter-Williams said of veteran guidance. "Learning is something big in this game. To learn from guys who've been in this league is great, and it can only help me."
Most of this his guidance this season has come from Brown and assistant coaches Lloyd Pierce and Billy Lange. Advice from coaches - especially constructive criticism - can get tiring over time. That's why it's always good to hear the same speech or instructions from a veteran on the roster who commands respect.
Brown thinks Richardson could serve as that veteran voice, even though he is a shooting guard. The coach said the 13th-year veteran has value.
"He has a voice that counts for something that's heard," Brown said, "and quite possibly that's going to be his role.
"His resumé and his personality and his character certainty would allow him to have a chance of doing that. Right now, I see him doing that."
Richardson would excel in that role. But he's not enough. The Sixers desperately need a veteran point guard whose primary purpose is to help in Carter-Williams' development.