Headed into the All-Star break the 76ers have lost eight straight and if you were one of the few in denial all season, than the gig is up. The Sixers are in full blown tank mode. Inside of those eight losses a long list of things have gone wrong. One of the issues has been the fact that Sixers 2014 first round pick Michael Carter-Williams has been playing some of the worst basketball of his rookie year.
So a good deal of Philadunkia nation is probably wondering, “Is it time to be concerned with MCW?”
In my opinion the answer is very simple….
Before the start to this NBA season it was a consensus among the “experts” that the 76ers would be the worst team in the League and possibly historically bad. Since the start of the 2013-14 season, the 76ers and Carter-Williams have far exceeded the expectations for this year and to be honest, I didn’t see either coming.
When I covered the Sixers 2014 1st round selection (11th overall pick) this summer, Carter-Williams was far from the product he is today. At the conclusion of the 2013 Orlando Pro Summer League, Carter-Williams had a shooting percentage of 27.1 (4.6-17 FGM-A). Yeah, that’s pretty awful and seeing it in person didn’t make it look any better.
When I asked Carter-Williams this summer about his shooting struggles he told me, “I try to stay focused on the positive things. Of course I want to win and play well. I’m one of the most competitive guys out there. I have always been on winning teams but it’s not about today or tomorrow, it’s about the long process.”
That quote just recently became applicable again as the rookie has hit a little bit of a wall in the season. In his past 10 games Carter-Williams is averaging 15.2 PPG, 5.8 APG and 4 RPG to go along with a 34.6 field goal percentage. These stats are just slightly down from his season averages of 17.1 PPG, 6.4 APG and 5.4 RPG. Carter-Williams has however also had more turnovers than assists in three of his last five, which go along with a shooting percentage below his season average in four of his last five. In total the rookie from Syracuse has had a slight dip in production as well as continued sub par three point shooting. I want to stop anyone before they get started; it is not time to panic.
If that is worst we will see from MCW in his rookie season, than there should be no cause for concern going forward. In fact, you should be very encouraged.
As of right now when you evaluate last year’s draft class there is only one player that is currently standing out, Carter-Williams. Only 3 rookies, including Carter-Williams, are averaging over ten points per game (Victor Oladipo and Trey Burke are the others). In addition to that fact, Carter-Williams lead’s all rookies in scoring, rebounding and assists. Even if the numbers from his last ten games were his season averages, I bet coming off his performance at the OPSL this past summer that most Sixer fans would have eagerly welcomed that kind of production from MCW in his rookie campaign.
The fact is the 76ers were inevitably going to go on a long and unwatchable losing stretch at some point this year. If that stretch of losses costs Carter-Williams a little statistically, but gains the franchise additional ping pong balls, than so be it. That’s what is best for the overall franchise in the long haul. Besides, I think after the All-Star break Carter-Williams will rediscover his game (He showed signs of that in the Sixers loss at Utah).
Still, MCW is bound to have peaks and valleys in the second half of his rookie season, but 76er fans shouldn’t be worried about those bad performances. This rookie has already shown he will be a huge part of the team’s future and it’s like Carter-Williams told me this summer, “It’s about the long process.”
Alex Gorge is a scribe for Philadunkia. You can follow him on Twitter @apg3000.
You can follow us on Twitter @philadunkia.