Wright, Boeheim weigh in on Carter-Williams' debut
Michael Carter-Williams made 4 of 6 threes and committed just one turnover in the Sixers' 114-110 win over the Heat. (USA Today Images)
Point guards have won the last two Rookie of the Year awards -- the Trail Blazers’ Damian Lillard won it last season and the Cavaliers’ Kyrie Irving the year before.
Michael Carter-Williams, out of the gate, is trying to make it three in a row and the first Sixer to earn the hardware since Allen Iverson back in 1997.
MCW showed no signs of being intimidated or nervous in his NBA debut. He finished the game with 22 points, 12 assists, seven rebounds and nine steals to just one turnover.
It's a stat sheet he should frame.
“I had a great game,” Carter-Williams said. “I had a lot of fun with the guys, but we still have 81 games still to play so I still have to stay focused."
And that's perhaps the toughest adjustment for a rookie: 82 games. Carter-Williams played a combined 66 in his two seasons at Syracuse.
“That is the greatest challenge,” coach Brett Brown said. “When I see these veteran players that for 82 games, they bring it. They are able to play through injury. They’re able to take care of themselves, and each night they find a way to compete and get through it. That is a rare breed of player and a person.
“We don’t want to get his head too big and we want to keep him grounded, and that is all true. But you need to step back and say, 'Look at the stats.' Look at his impact on a game and a stat sheet where there are incredible, high numbers in some areas.”
Hall of Famer Magic Johnson believes MCW will bring it every night, as he did back in the day when he delivered us Showtime. Johnson offered Carter-Williams high praise after the Sixers' surprising four–point win over the Heat (see story), tweeting:
I just got done watching the guy I think will be the Rookie of The Year, Michael Carter-Williams of the 76ers.
“My little brothers and sisters told me about it,” Carter-Williams said. “They were all excited and I just said I appreciate it and that it is a big compliment.
“He is one of the all-time greats. I have a lot of respect for Magic and what he did for the game. You look up to guys like him.”
What will Carter-Williams do for an encore? Friday night will tell us when he faces fourth-year guard John Wall of the Washington Wizards. Like any coach in the league, Brown is looking for consistency. As is MCW.
“I can’t go one game and play really well and then have a lot of bad ones,” Carter-Williams said. “It is about being consistent and staying within my game.”
“To see what he has the ability to do as he gets older and gets a little bit stronger and a little bit smarter,” Brown added. “And the thing that has stood out is that there is a quiet resilience, a quiet competitor in there that you would not guess is there if you just sort of isolated and just watched him practice.”
The coach watches MCW in practice every day and too often sees a laid-back young man who could show a little more fire.
“It is definitely belief, it's not arrogance. It is how he rolls,” Brown said. “If you saw him at a mall or in an aisle at a supermarket, he flows. There is just an easiness about how he does things that, as I have said, I don’t like it.
“I want to see in practice a little tougher, a little quicker, a little more competitiveness, and I am going there with him and he knows it. But I tell you what, when you see him on the court, I am so proud of what he did and how competitive he was and how much thrill he took from that game last night. Feeling like the city saw Michael Carter-Williams for the first time, and here I am.”
It certainly was a grand entrance.