Thursday, April 17, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

Among NBA rookies, 76ers' Michael Carter-Williams is leader of the pack

(Chris Szagola/AP)
(Chris Szagola/AP)

It’s probably safe to say that nobody thought these two would be the frontrunners for the 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year honors a quarter of the way through the season.

Okay, Orlando Magic shooting guard Victor Oladipo was the No.2 overall selection so it makes sense that he would be in the hunt.

But the other early-season standout rookie, Philadelphia 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams, is not the first-year player most believed the others would be trying to chase down.

If this were a sprint, Carter-Williams would be two-time Olympic 100 and 200 meter champion Usain Bolt and the others would throw up their hands in exasperation.

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  • Still, even though this is marathon, MCW has established such a tremendous lead; it’s going to take a special set of circumstances for someone to run him down.

    With exception of Oladipo, that’s how much better Carter-Williams’ start has been than the rest of 2013 Class.

    Going into the second quarter of the season, Carter-Williams leads all rookies in scoring (17.0), assists (7.1) and steals (3.1).

    As a guard, Carter-Williams is tied with Boston Celtics center Kelly Olynyk in rebounds at 5.4.

    Even in the fringe statistics MCW is dominant among rookies. He is first in field goals made per game (6.0), free throws attempt (5.1), and defensive rebounds (4.0).

    But the biggest indicator of how far ahead Carter-Williams of his fellow first-yearers is that he leads in minutes played (36.0).

    He is the only rookie playing at least 30 minutes a game. Oladipo is second at 28.6.

    That shows Coach Brett Brown values Carter-Williams presence on the court.

    Now, not to diminish Carter-Williams’ numbers because the way he’s played would have in the Rookie-of-the-Year conversation in any season, but his shining so much better than everyone else shows how shockingly ineffective the 2013 Class has been overall.

    Carter-Williams was the 11th overall pick back in June, and even at that spot, many pundits wondered if Sixers president/general manager Sam Hinkie had made a reach.

    But of the 10 players selected ahead of Carter-Williams, only Oladipo has come anywhere close to equaling his production.

    You give a pass to Washington Wizards swingman Otto Porter, Jr (3rd overall), Sixers center Nerlens Noel (6th) and Portland Trailblazers combo-guard C.J. McCollum because they have not played due to injury.

    Utah Jazz point guard has played well in the seven games since he’s comeback from, injury.

    Starting with Cleveland Cavaliers power forward Anthony Bennett, the first overall pick, this has, thus far, been the least effective lottery class since 2007 when Kevin Durant and Al Horford were the only two players picked in the top 11 to do much as rookies.

    Obviously, this is just the infancy of their careers and a lot will change, but right now Bennett (2.2 points, 2.6 rebounds, 11.4 minutes) is looking like the worst top pick since Los Angeles Clippers took center Michael Olowodandki in 1998.

    Other big names entering the 2013 draft like Charlotte center Cody Zeller (4th overall), Phoenix center Alex Len (5th), Sacramento guard Ben Mclemore (8th) and Detroit guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are so far struggling to adjust to the NBA game.

    Right now, it's Carter-Williams running way ahead with the others hoping he can't maintain the pace.

    John Smallwood Daily News Sports Columnist
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