Steep learning curve awaits Carter-Williams

Steep learning curve awaits Carter-Williams

Brown says his point guard needs to adjust to the learning curve

October 2, 2013, 2:30 pm
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The Sixers took Michael Carter-Williams with the 11th overall pick out of Syracuse. (AP)

By the end of last season, even point guard Jrue Holiday had to admit that he was a little worn down. The All-Star point guard said he was a victim of his position because he not only had to to find scoring opportunities for himself but also for others.
Then Holiday often had to defend the opposing team’s ball handler, which frequently made him the focus of the pick-and-roll. It added up. The physicality of the position and the mental strength it takes to get through a long season took its toll.
If that’s the way it went for a veteran, an All-Star point guard moving into his prime athletic years, how will it go for Michael Carter-Williams, the Sixers’ rookie point guard from Syracuse? At 6-foot-6 and a slight 185 pounds, Carter-Williams has the length to be an extraordinary point guard, but the size is a bit lacking. Add in the inexperience and playing a demanding position, and it could be a tough season for Carter-Williams.
Then again, Carter-Williams understands what he's facing; he knows the physical and mental pounding will add up, and his goal for the season is to learn as much as he can.
“There are a lot of things to process and a lot of times the coaches are testing me and throwing things at me,” Carter-Williams said. “Sometimes I get a little overwhelmed, but I just have to step back and take everything in.”
Compounding matters is that the Sixers don’t have a veteran point guard on the roster. There is no Chauncey Billups or Andre Miller-type to guide Carter-Williams through the tough times on the floor and navigate life off the court. Sure, the rookie will have a strong support system. The veterans — Spencer Hawes, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner and Thad Young — aren’t too much older than Carter-Williams. They will be able to relate to the young guy.
Plus, new coach Brett Brown was a collegiate point guard at Boston University and worked closely with All-Star point guard Tony Parker, as well as the crop of big-time guards the San Antonio Spurs always seemed to find.
If anyone can clue Carter-Williams on what to expect, it’s Brown.
“You see very quickly that he is young,” Brown said. “He's played a second of NBA, physical basketball against men who are better athletes and there is an education coming now.”
Brown said the best teacher Carter-Williams has at this stage is new Sixers guard Tony Wroten, who is bigger and slightly more experienced than the rookie. Wroten has the ability to play the point and on the wing and has been matched up against Carter-Williams during practice.
“Tony Wroten is the best development coach that Michael Carter-Williams will have this year, because Tony Wroten’s energy, pick-up points, physicality make it real,” Brown said. “It develops Michael in relation to the lay of the land of the NBA. It’s a big-boy stage and there’s a physicality Tony can bring to the table, so when we start scrimmaging, and there’s either a casual approach or an aloofness or a cruise-type of style, Tony tightens it up and makes it real — real quick.”
Wroten has a different style than Carter-Williams. Whereas Wroten is lightning-quick and always pushing, the rookie likes to be in control. But, Brown pointed out, Carter-Williams has special talent and that always comes to the forefront in the NBA.
“You see signs of really special and change-of-space speed. It’s not like you’re watching Tony Parker, Russell Westbrook or Derrick Rose, where, bam, he’s on the rim,” Brown said. “He has a controlled gear and when he goes into that other gear it’s something special. He’s a deliberate-type point guard who has size and can pass.”
Still, it’s not going to come overnight for Carter-Williams. In fact, even working through his first NBA training camp took some on-the-fly adjustments. Then again, as a point guard, making adjustments is the name of the game.
“He responded well,” big man Spencer Hawes said. “The first day he was a deer in the headlights. He was moving a million miles an hour. But he slowed himself down and figured it out.”
Carter-Williams says he’s still trying to figure it out. The Sixers are running a brand new offense and have yet to install all their plays. Even the things Brown has introduced to the team aren’t completely established.
But as far as a first training camp goes, Carter-Williams had a valuable experience.
“It’s been great. I learned a lot and it was a tough camp,” Carter-Williams said. “The guys are tough and we had a few bumps and bruises. Overall, I think it went well.”
Hawes back on the floor
Hawes was back on the practice floor on Wednesday for the first time since wrenching his knee on Monday (see story). He said he participated in non-contract drills and will play in the exhibition games in Europe.

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