Brett Brown revealed earlier today that Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th pick in the 2013 NBA draft and the reigning rookie of the year, will not be a full participant when the Sixers open up their training camp Tuesday at Stockton College in New Jersey. Carter-Williams is currently recovering from a torn labrum in his right shoulder, which he had surgery to repair in May.
"He will not be a full participant in camp," Sixers head coach Brett Brown said about Michael Carter-Williams. "He will be more of a skeleton guy. Do a lot of shooting, but obviously still be a part of everything that we're doing."
Brown did say that he thought Michael Carter-Williams was ahead of schedule, but that he didn't know when he would be ready to play in an NBA game.
"I think if you spoke to his doctors they'd say that everything is in fact a little bit ahead of the game," Brown said. "What does that mean in regards to when he's actually going to play an NBA game? We still don't know."
"I think he's taken his time and handled it really professionally," Brown said about Michael Carter-Williams' rehab. "We've taken the restrictions, and through core work, and gaining weight, and form shooting, made the time work."
Brown said that Carter-Williams had added 11 or 12 pounds to his frame, which should help him with the physicality of the NBA.
Brown also noted that they added two coaches to the staff. First, Sean Rooks will replace the departed Greg Foster as the big man coach, and will be very influential in the development of Nerlens Noel and Joel Embiid. Rooks, who graduated from Arizona, played 12 seasons in the NBA, including stops with the Mavericks, Timberwolves, Hawks, Lakers, Clippers, Hornets, and Magic. He then spent time coaching in the D-League, including stops with the Bakersfield Jam, New Mexico Thunderbirds, and Sioux Falls Skyforce.
As previously reported, the team also hired Eugene Burroughs as a shooting coach. Burroughs made stops at American, Hofstra (where he was an assistant to Jay Wright), Marist, Navy (where he was on current Sixers assistant Billy Lange's staff), and Penn State during his 17 year coaching career. Burroughs is a native of the Philadelphia area, having played at The Episcopal Academy in Newtown Square, and played collegiately at the University of Richmond.
As for how Michael Carter-Williams' injury impacts the Sixers lineup, Brown intends to put Tony Wroten on the ball quite a bit more. Wroten played more minutes at shooting guard than point last year, which was especially true after the Sixers traded away Evan Turner to the Indiana Pacers at the trade deadline. After the trade, Wroten and Carter-Williams played nearly 14 minutes per game together.
"At the start of our preseason games I'm expecting to give Tony the ball," Brown said about Wroten. "My intentions are to give him the ball and grow him while Michael is out."
"[Wroten] feels he's going to be more mature running a team and understanding the responsibilities of running a team, and I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt and give him the ball and help him succeed."
Brown seemed to think that Wroten still needed some growth in that area.
"His maturity is still up in the air. We still have to grow that and try to help that," Brown said about the third year guard out of the University of Washington.
As for what happens when Michael Carter-Williams returns? The Sixers don't have many options at shooting guard, and it may seem logical that Wroten could be vying for that spot. Brown seemed like that's not a direction he was looking to go in, at least for now.
"I'm looking at him as Michael's backup at point guard," Brown said.
For the rest of the starting lineup? Brown said it was likely that Nerlens Noel and Henry Sims would be starting in the front court. Part of that is due to Sims strong play late in the season and a strong offseason, which Brown seemed very happy with. But part of the reasoning will also be out of anticipation for when Joel Embiid returns from injury next year, to get Noel accustomed to playing alongside another big man in the paint.
For the wings, Brown admitted that he "has no idea what's going on with the wings", although it seems likely that Brown will go with Hollis Thompson, a second year player out of Georgetown, at the small forward position. Thompson played 22.6 minutes per game during his rookie season, including 25.4 per game after the all-star break. He hit 40.1% from three point range on the season, something the Sixers sorely lack.
Brown said that he prefers Thompson defending small forwards at the NBA level, and that he fears he would struggle defending some of the elite athletes at the shooting guard position. Thompson played virtually all of his minutes at small forward last season after transitioning from playing primarily power forward at Georgetown.
Although Brown said that playing time will, ultimately, be dictated by effort.
"Theres an earning factor where you have to earn minutes," Brown said. "And it will be done by playing defense, and it will be done with effort."