We're comparing Michael Carter-Williams to who now?

We're comparing Michael Carter-Williams to who now?

As exciting as the first month-plus of Philadelphia 76ers rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams' career has been, we're long-trained as sports fans to be a little wary of any hot start by an athlete that seems a little bit too good to be true. After all, MCW was taken with the 11th pick in a historically weak draft, his college stats were good but flawed, and he struggled for most of the pre-season. It seems inevitable that sooner or later, he'll turn out to be over-achieving and regress to the kind of subpar rookie numbers we expected of him as he learned to adjust to the pro game, right?

Well. ESPN recently released their annual Top 25 Under 25 ranking for NBA players for players they'd most like to build around, and as is probably warranted giving his incredible rookie season, the 22-year-old Carter-Williams placed #15 on the list--five spots higher than Jrue Holiday, the man he replaced as Sixers PG, it should probably be noted. That's cool, and it's good to still have someone from the Sixers on the list, now that Jrue is gone and Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner have aged out of eligibility, and Nerlens Noel is still a ways away from being able to prove himself worthy.

But what's really notable about MCW's appearance on the list is the blurb in his entry from ESPN analytics expert Kevin Pelton. At the end of each player's write-up, Pelton writes a little about each players' likely future development (based on the findings of his SCHOENE projection system), and what type of player they're likely to evolve into--although, in the cases of some players, like Detroit's Greg Monroe and L.A.'s Blake Griffin, he says that they've basically topped out, and what you see with them is probably already about as good as it's gonna get.

That, however, is not what he has to say about Michael Carter-Williams:

SCHOENE's five most similar players to Carter-Williams: [Penny Hardaway], Baron Davis, Stephen Curry, Russell Westbrook and Jason Kidd. We might have ranked him too low.

Woah. Five All-Stars, at least a couple of whom are likely future Hall-of-Famers, and really, five of the most exciting players to watch of the last 20 years of NBA hoops. And...we have a guy like this on our roster? The third-year Syracuse alum we took 11th in the worst draft ever, who can't really shoot or anything? The guy who Bill Simmons predicted was gonna lose his job to Nate Wolters by the end of the season when it looked like we were drafting Wolters in the second round?

OK, so SCHOENE can't literally predict the future--at least not with 100% guaranteed accuracy--and just assuming MCW is gonna follow the career paths of those five franchise talents because the first 15 games of his career started out like theirs is probably a little foolhardy. Still, to hear that MCW not only isn't being predicted by the NBA smart guys to collapse before season's end, but that he really might only be scratching the surface of his pro potential...goddamn, that's something to get excited about.

The lesson here, as always: Sam Hinkie is the true Fifth Beatle, and should be worshipped accordingly.

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

Best of NBA: Russell Westbrook posts 5th straight triple-double in Thunder's win over Pelicans

OKLAHOMA CITY -- Russell Westbrook became the first player with five consecutive triple-doubles since Michael Jordan had seven straight in 1989 and the Oklahoma City Thunder beat the New Orleans Pelicans 101-92 on Sunday night.

Westbrook finished with 28 points, 17 rebounds and 12 assists. The Thunder have won all five games during Westbrook's triple-double stretch. It was Westbrook's 10th triple-double of the season and the 47th of his career.

Enes Kanter had 17 points and 10 rebounds and Victor Oladipo added 15 points for the Thunder.

Anthony Davis, the NBA's leading scorer, had 37 points and 15 rebounds for the Pelicans. Buddy Hield, who led nearby Oklahoma to the Final Four last season, scored 16 points in his first game back in the state (see full recap).

Rose, Anthony help Knicks hold off Kings
NEW YORK -- Derrick Rose and Carmelo Anthony each scored 20 points and the New York Knicks held off the Sacramento Kings 106-98 on Sunday night for their eighth win in 11 games.

The Knicks took a 21-point lead in the first half, gave up 18 consecutive points in the third quarter but outplayed the Kings down the stretch to win their third straight overall and improve to 9-3 at home.

Brandon Jennings added 19 points for New York and Kristaps Porzingis finished with 15 points and 14 rebounds.

DeMarcus Cousins had 36 points and 12 rebounds for the Kings, but shot just 9 for 30 and looked fatigued while struggling late while playing the entire second half (see full recap).

Ibaka's big night leads Magic past Pistons
AUBURN HILLS, Mich. -- Serge Ibaka scored 21 points and blocked four shots, helping the Orlando Magic beat the Detroit Pistons 98-92 on Sunday night.

Nikola Vucevic added 16 points and eight rebounds for the Magic.

Pistons guard Reggie Jackson made his season debut after missing Detroit's first 21 games with knee tendinitis. He had 18 points in 23 minutes. Marcus Morris led Detroit with 21 points.

Orlando won for the third time in four games while Detroit had its three-game winning streak snapped.

On Jackson's first possession, the Pistons went to their bread-and-butter play -- he and Andre Drummond running a high pick and roll. Jackson came off the screen and hit a 3-pointer, bringing a cheer from the small crowd. Jackson played the first 5:50 of the quarter as Detroit built a 16-10 lead (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

Best of NHL: Canadiens avoid winless California trip with SO win over Kings

LOS ANGELES -- Paul Byron scored the clinching goal in the fourth round of the shootout, and the Montreal Canadiens avoided a winless swing through California with a 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday.

Max Pacioretty had two goals and an assist for the Canadiens, who won for just the second time in seven road games. Montreal had only one win in its previous 11 games in California before scoring three times in the four-round shootout.

Alexander Radulov and Andrew Shaw also scored and Carey Price made 27 saves for the Atlantic Division-leading Canadiens.

Jeff Carter and Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist apiece for the Kings, who lost for only the second time in eight games. Peter Budaj stopped 26 shots (see full recap).

DeKeyser gives Red Wings OT win over Isles
NEW YORK -- Danny DeKeyser scored 1:02 into overtime to give Detroit a victory over New York.

Mike Green scored twice and Henrik Zetterberg had a goal and assist for Detroit, which improved to 4-1-2 in its last seven games. Peter Mrazek stopped 32 shots to improve to 3-0-2 in his past five starts.

Anders Lee, Johnny Boychuk and Josh Bailey scored for New York, which had won a season-high three straight. Jaroslav Halak finished with 30 saves.

Detroit's Frans Nielsen had an assist while facing his former team for the first time since leaving the Islanders for a six-year, $31.5 million deal with the Red Wings last summer. The 32-year-old Danish center was selected by the Islanders in the third round of the 2002 draft and had 119 goals and 230 assists over 10 seasons in New York (see full recap).

Late goal lifts Jets over Blackhawks
CHICAGO -- Andrew Copp scored the tiebreaking goal with 4:45 left, Bryan Little got his third goal in three games and Winnipeg edged Chicago.

Copp beat Scott Darling on the stick side with a shot from the right circle that slipped just inside the left post.

Chicago's Artemi Panarin scored with 6:54 remaining to tie it at 1, moments after Copp hit the post, to spoil Connor Hellebuyck's bid for a second shutout against Chicago in less than a month. Panarin completed a give-and-go with Patrick Kane, beating Hellebuyck to the glove side.

Hellebuyck finished with 25 saves and outdueled Darling, who started his second straight game for the Blackhawks in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford. Darling made 30 saves, including three on breakaways.

Little's power-play goal with 43.4 seconds left in the second period was his fourth point in four games since missing 23 with a lower-body injury (see full recap)