The grass is always greener. It's a tired but consistently applicable idiom I recall learning from the erstwhile Nickelodeon series As Told By Ginger. As a displaced Syracuse basketball fan (my central NY collegiate roots run mighty deep -- sorry guys), I watched about 20 Michael Carter-Williams games this year. And coming into the draft, I was done with him. He was a known commodity. And I knew his shortcomings far too well.
But then the Blazers chose CJ McCollum and Sam Hinkie took McDubs with the 11th pick, re-instilling an exuberance in me that had disappeared with each missed MCW jumper. That's where I'm at in terms of trust. There's no pair of people I believe in more than Josh Harris and Sam Hinkie. If they want MCW, I want MCW. It's as simple as that.
The biggest, and maybe even only question mark is the jump shot. Carter-Williams is a really bad shooter. Like... really bad. His form isn't a travesty, but the results were. As a sophomore, MCW shot under 30% from three, an well under 50% at the rim. For a 6'5 point guard whose calling cards are his ability to push the ball and get to the bucket, that's not what you want to see.
It's not unfixable, though. Simply having better players around him will do wonders. Syracuse's best interior options to receive an MCW pass were the 6'7 C.J. Fair and 6'4 Brandon Triche -- he's already got Nerlens Noel, Arnett Moultrie, and Thaddeus Young, for the time being. That'll help things. Sharing a backcourt with Evan Turner would, uh, not.
There have also been reports about how his Shanda of an outside shot has been corrected and more consistently finding twine. The difference between MCW with a reliable jumper and MCW without one is huge.
And maybe more than anything else Sam Hinkie does as the Sixers GM, his fate rests on the 21-year-old Michael Carter-Williams developing a jumpshot. For now, he's just a rookie drafted to fill the superfly shoes of Jrue Holiday, face of the franchise. He up for it?
From Sean Keeley of the wonderful Cuse blog Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician:
I'm curious to see how MCW handles the adversity that's going to come with being the point guard of a rebuilding team. I don't believe he's ever really had to deal with losing all that much, especially as a team leader, so all eyes are going to be on how he handles it. I think he's learned from that Lord & Taylor incident last year and the Final Four run toughened him up, but the NBA is a whole other animal.
Looking forward to seeing just how much juice we can milk from this L&T shoplifting thing, but for now, let's see where SBN's Jonathan Tjarks sees MCW's career going. Back in January, he made the inevitable Rajon Rondo comparison (dynamic point guard with limited shooting ability), claiming that whatever happens, the team that drafts him will need to give him the keys to their offense. I think we've found our chauffeur.
While Carter-Williams can struggle with his decision-making at times, he makes up for it with the ability to see over the top of the defense and make every pass in the book. He has the quickness, ball-handling and passing skills to create a shot, either for himself or his teammates, at will.
If he could consistently knock down the shots he creates, he would be in the running for the No. 1 pick. Unfortunately, he can't. While that may improve with time, he couldn't punish defenses for sagging off him this season.
However, that isn't necessarily a death sentence in the NBA. Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio have succeeded without a consistent jumper. Carter-Williams can, too. He can single-handedly change the tempo of the game, either by forcing turnovers and clearing the defensive glass.
Like the Nerlens Noel selection, the MCW pick wasn't made with just one side of the ball in mind. He's got as much potential as anyone in the draft to be a dominant player on both ends. And while he loses some points for not being as cute as Jrue (missin u), he makes up for it by wearing #1. I'm alright with that.
MCW was one of the most intriguing players in the draft. And now he's going to be running the show for Hinkie's offense with the Sixers. And if Hinkie believes, I believe.