OKLAHOMA CITY – Michael Carter-Williams is 22 years old. He has been anointed the leader of the Sixers because he is the point guard and is very talented. Being a leader comes naturally to some, others grow into the role.
Coach Brett Brown says Michael Carter-Williams has a long ways to go -- as does this Sixers team -- but he has his starting point guard’s back.
The Sixers' defense was lacking in the fourth quarter against Oklahoma City, Tuesday night. Perry Jones, the Thunder’s starting shooting guard, played seven minutes, but no other Thunder starter played the final 12 minutes. Still, the Thunder shot 61 percent from the field.
At one point Brown called Carter-Williams over to the sideline during a stoppage in play, clearly upset with the Sixers' poor defense.
Carter-Williams looked agitated that he had to have this discussion and before too long the body language of both men was of two people in an argument.
It happens, but given where MCW is in his career -- namely the infancy stage -- listening in learning moments is a must. The rookie is an extension of the coach and must set an example to his teammates with his play as well as his composure.
In this case, a lack of composure was shown on MCW’s part.
“The deal is you are going to guard,” Brown explained of what upset him. “And you are going to keep the game in front of you, and if you don’t then we don’t have much."
Brown said his conversation with Carter-Williams was productive.
“It is a coach talking to a player -- a young player -- who comes up afterwards and he understands,” Brown said. “That is just part of the landscape. It is bad luck and we move on.”
Carter-Williams didn’t see the moment as onlookers did.
“I didn’t think I lost my cool at all,” Carter-Williams said. “I didn’t try to force anything really. I had three turnovers. I didn’t seem flustered. Even though we were down a lot I just tried to play basketball.”
As with many young players, MCW uses his play at the offensive end to gauge how well he played.
“There has to be an accountability and a direct approach with all our players. I’m coaching them,” Brown said. “I love coaching them and we will bounce back and do it again in the morning.”
Former Sixers head coach Larry Brown’s famous line was, “I am just trying to get them to play the right way.”
Brett Brown is trying to do the same thing, only unlike Larry he has no veteran reinforcements on the floor to reel in the likes of an MCW. As Brett Brown likes to say, Carter-Williams is talented but, "doesn’t know what he doesn’t know."
“That frustration is a portion of him getting older,” Brown said. “It’s a portion of too bad and it’s a portion of us growing as a group, me with him, him with me and us together. We are trying to get this done together.”