I will always have a special place in my heart for rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams.
Being born in upstate New York, I have been a die hard Syracuse basketball fan for as long as I can remember. I’ve watched a ton of talented guards thrive in the orange. Guys like Jonny Flynn, Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine come to mind. While all have had some seriously terrific moments, none of them will come close to the NBA career that is looming for 22-year old Carter-Williams.
Fantasy owners should rejoice. Through the first three games of the season, MCW has been one of the top point guards in all of basketball. Granted, it is a very small sample size, but you’d have to be blind not to realize how impressive this rookie has been. As of right now, Carter-Williams is currently third among point guards in ESPN’s Player Rater, only behind the top-two point guards heading into the fantasy season, Chris Paul and Stephen Curry. And while it would be a bit foolish to expect this production on a nightly basis, could Carter-Williams finish the season as a top-10 fantasy point guard?
You know I’m not betting against it.
I preach this all the time, but when participating in your fantasy hoops draft, make sure to target players who can give you production in all of the categories. Michael Carter-Williams is one of those guys. Through the first three games of his promising career, he is averaging 20.7 points, 9.0 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 4.3 steals per contest. He’s been awesome in all facets of the game. I mean, he was dangerously close to a quadruple-double in his first career game… against the Heat. On the year, Carter-Williams has posted double-digit assists in two of three games, has scored at least 20 points in both of those games, and despite being knocked for ball security over the course of his college career, MCW has only posted seven turnovers this year. An elite defender (2.8 steals per game in college), Carter-Williams will continue to contribute in the steals department, and at a massive 6’6″ for a point guard, rebounding won’t be too hard to come by either. This kid can do it all, folks.
When the 76ers shipped All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday away on draft day, opportunity presented itself for a new face in Philadelphia. A few picks later, and Carter-Williams was not only officially a member of the 76ers, but officially the starting point guard, as well. It was his offense to run, and run it he has done. With Holiday out of the picture and far less offensive talent than the prior season, Carter-Williams will log all the minutes he can possibly handle for the 76ers. “The Hyphen” has played 106 minutes thus far, which is 23rd-most in the league. He’s played at least 32 minutes in every game this season, and with no other true point guard threatening his playing time, Carter-Williams should continue to see the court quite a bit. With those minutes, comes opportunity. Let’s take a look at some of the players who have touched the ball the most in the league, thanks to NBA.com’s brand new stats. They are amazing.
Touches Per Game
Points Per Touch
And again, while it’s still insanely early, I don’t think it’s out of the question that Carter-Williams sees this type of usage and volume throughout the course of his rookie campaign. There are simply no other guys on the roster that can provide the upside he brings to the table. And while he is known for his playmaking and defensive skill-set, Carter-Williams is still scoring as well, and averaging slightly over 15 passing attempts per game this year.
As I stated before (and most already know), Carter-Williams is a dominant defender. He has been an elite on-ball defender in college, and playing in a defensive-mind zone defense at Syracuse proved to be beneficial to him. Already in his career, he has showcased that defensive prowess on some top-notch players. He has helped force four LeBron James turnovers, and on Saturday night, Derrick Rose struggled heavily against the rookie, scoring just 13 points and turning the ball over eight times in 32 minutes of playing time. Because of his superb play recognition and length on the perimeter, fantasy owners should expect a ton of steals this season from the rookie.
It may be a bit of a biased opinion, considering I’ve been in love with this kid for a while now, but Carter-Williams certainly has the upside and talent to finish the season as a top-1o fantasy point guard, despite the lack of talent around him in Philadelphia.
Adam Pfeifer is a featured fantasy sports columnist for Rant Sports.
You can follow him on Twitter @aPfeiferRS.