When Michael Carter-Williams was slow to get up at the end of the Sixers' 101-99 win over the Trail Blazers (see story), messages concerning the status of the rookie began crossing Twitter.
Carter-Williams was hit in the head with an elbow and remained face down for an extended period of time -- long enough for fans to think about the Sixers' 1-10 record when MCW is out of the lineup.
Carter-Williams was sidelined twice this season. Once with a bruised arch in his foot, then with a skin infection in his right knee. Carter-Williams claimed no worse for the wear after the game and is expected in Monday's lineup when the Sixers host the Timberwolves (see story).
For the Sixers, his status is encouraging. But, offensively, Carter-Williams has encountered some rough games of late. He was just 5 for 16 from the floor Saturday night, and in the seven games he has played since returning from the skin infection, he is shooting just 38.6 percent from the field. MCW sees a ton of minutes but he's not yet recognized as an elite player.
But Sixers head coach Brett Brown is on a mission to help his rookie guard get through the trials and tribulations of being a first-year player.
"He wants to be seen as resilient and unflappable," Brown said of his rookie point guard. "He needs to be seen in the league's eyes, his teammates' eyes and referees' eyes where he can take a hit and get back up and that is hard."
Carter-Williams averages 5.4 free-throw attempts per game -- the most of any Sixer. There are 29 players in the NBA who average at least five free throws per game and 13 of them are guards. Carter-Williams is the only rookie on the list.
MCW is starting to build a reputation for getting to the line. But, he's not quite at level of a James Harden -- a player who attempts 9.1 free throws per game.
"I think at times he gets fouled," Brown said. "But I think it is exposed when you don't have the weight that he doesn't have. I mean (Manu) Ginobili back in the day with his long floppy hair would look like he got hit with a baseball bat.
"I am with him. I think at times he has been hit but that is not going to help either of us. It is my job to coach him on how he needs to establish his reputation."
Carter-Williams is still the front-runner for Rookie of the Year, leading all rookies in points (17.2), rebounds (5.7), assists (7.2) and steals (2.9) per game.