DENVER -- When the Sixers meet the Nuggets tonight Michael Carter-Williams will get his first taste of guarding Ty Lawson. The Nuggets' starting point guard did not play when the Nuggets beat the Sixers in Philadelphia in November because of a sore hamstring.
MCW did not play that game either because of a sore right knee.
Both guards are averaging 17.8 points. Lawson averages 7.9 assists and Carter-Williams 7.5. But they are drastically different in how they go about getting those numbers.
“They are so different,” Brown said of Lawson and MCW. “I keep saying Michael has the similarities of a Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook. Those guys supposedly couldn’t shoot but were great at being on the rim. They had height and size -- I mean Michael is a 6-6 point guard.”
As a rookie Rose averaged 16.8 points and 6.3 assists, though he did shoot just 22 percent from long range. Rose's three-point shooting this year, before getting hurt, was 34 percent.
Westbrook as a rookie averaged 15.3 points and 5.3 assists, but like Rose his three-point shooting was suspect at 27 percent. Two years later Westbrook shot a career best 33 percent from behind the arc.
For Brown to compare his star pupil to Rose and Westbrook is high praise and it also shows MCW has a chance to develop as a shooter as well.
MCW has shot 30.8 percent from distance this season, but in his six December games that number was 17.6 percent.
“They are bigger guards, explosive guards,” Carter-Williams said of Westbrook and Rose. “I watch them play all the time and I try to take things from them and emulate them and incorporate things into my game because we do have some similarities. And hopefully one day I can get to their level.”
And then there is the 5-foot-11 Lawson.
“He scares the heck out of any coach,” Brown said of Lawson. “He plays with a motor, he is instant offense, he can shoot a three, he can get to the rim, he plays with a cocky tenacity, and he is the head of the snake. He obviously will receive a lot of our defensive attention. I just see someone in him that has been used to winning.”
Though that winning is not a current experience -- Denver has lost seven in a row. Carter-Williams is aware of Denver’s woes but knows his defensive assignment will be challenging.
“He is a talented player,” MCW said of Lawson. “He can do a little bit of everything -- get to the basket, shoot the ball. I am just going to try to contain him and stay in front and force him to do things that he doesn’t normally do.”
Sharing the rock
It will be interesting to see who Carter-Williams is offensively tonight. He took 28 shots in a loss at Phoenix and seven field goal attempts in a win over the Lakers.
"Everything I believe in offensively is you don’t want the responsibility, 'Oh he has two shots, he has three, oh he’s upset he didn’t get touches,'" Brown explained. "That is not how you coach. That is not how the game is played.
“You create an environment where there is a sharing mentality and if it is born out of Michael driving and kicking or Tony Wroten driving and kicking or if they have daylight, fine. The ball has to move. We didn’t have as many assists as we need to have [versus the Suns] and offensively that is the Holy Grail, can we go from good shot to great shot.”
In Phoenix the Sixers' 19 assists were their third-fewest this season. A day later they had 24, one more then their season average.