Sam Hinkie made quite a splash in his first draft calling the shots for the 76ers. By trading the team’s All-Star and captain in Jrue Holiday, the Sixers got two lottery picks in the 2013 draft and received New Orleans’ first-round pick for the 2014 draft, a league source confirmed (see story).
But when it came to the original, No. 11 overall pick, Hinkie played it straight.
“We were pleasantly surprised that Michael Carter-Williams fell to us,” Hinkie said. “We looked at many options to move up to get him and he fell to us at 11 and we were relieved.”
That’s where the Sixers took Carter-Williams, a guard out of Syracuse University and St. Andrews High School in Barrington, R.I. At 6-foot-6 and 185 pounds, Carter-Williams averaged just 8.2 points per game in his two years at Syracuse, but set the school record with 111 steals last season.
Defense and passing is Carter-Williams’ forte. He said he sees himself strictly as a point guard in the NBA and with Holiday traded to New Orleans, Carter-Williams will be the only point guard on the roster.
“I’m strictly a one,” Carter-Williams said. “That’s my natural position.”
Interestingly, Carter-Williams and Nerlens Noel, the No. 6 overall pick the Sixers acquired for Holiday, were AAU teammates in 10th and 11th grade in Massachusetts. Carter-Williams said he and Noel were talking about living next door to one another in Philadelphia.
“We grew up together and we’re really good friends,” Carter-Williams said. “I just got here and he was like, ‘Yo, I can’t believe we’re going to be playing together.’ We were talking about living next door to each other. We’re excited.”
The trade for Noel can’t be announced until it receives NBA approval.
The glaring weakness in Carter-Williams’ game is his shooting. As a freshman, Carter-Williams shot just 7 for 18 from three-point range and followed that up with 35 for 120 (29.2 percent) during his last year at Syracuse.
Carter-Williams said he got in a shooting slump that he couldn’t shake.
“I’ve been working on that and my shot was good in the workouts and I switched some little things and it’s been fine,” Carter-Williams said.
“I think I got caught up in passing the ball and I wasn’t as aggressive as I should have been. I got into a slump and I couldn’t get out of it, but I’ve learned how to fix things.”
Based on all Carter-Williams has been through the past season, fixing a shot from the perimeter is the easy part. A fire destroyed his family’s home last March while Carter-Williams was playing in the NCAA tournament.
Reportedly, the fire also destroyed a player evaluation that the guard kept above his desk that read Carter-Williams wasn’t good enough to play at a school like Syracuse.
The NBA? Forget it.
“He’s wonderfully competitive,” Hinkie said of the No. 11 pick.
When it comes to motivation, Carter-Williams has it covered.
“I think my game is ready and I think the mental part of it is ready,” Carter-Williams said. “I’ve been in a lot of situations and I’ve been in situations where I’ve been able to succeed, and I think I’m ready for the NBA right now.”