The 76ers’ coaching staff and front office knew that Michael Carter-Williams would face some steep point guard competition in the Orlando Pro Summer League. In the team’s first game on Sunday, he was matched up against the rising Houston Rocket Patrick Beverley.
Then, in the team’s second matchup of the OPSL on Monday, MCW went up against a slew of feisty backcourt men from the Indiana Pacers. Among them were Luke Hansbrough, Orlando Johnson and another former Syracuse guard, Jonny Flynn.
Flynn, who was the 6th Overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by the Minnesota Timberwolves, played last season with the Australia Tigers after playing with three teams in as many seasons in the League. Now back from his hiatus, Flynn is competing with the Pacers in Orlando and then with the Clippers in Las Vegas next week. And, while he’s trying to make a good impression on NBA scouts to try and make his own NBA roster, Flynn has definitely noticed MCW and several other Syracuse alumni playing hard and performing well in the Amway Center.
“It’s always good just to see the tradition keep going on and see the legacy of Syracuse keep growing,” Flynn said following Indiana’s two-point loss at the hands of Kelly Olynyk and the Boston Celtics on Tuesday. “Seeing Michael Carter-Williams, seeing James Southerland, seeing Fab Melo. The list is going to keep going on and on.”
Flynn was never at Syrcause with any of the those three aforementioned players, but his recognition of their success and solid play is just another hint at what being apart of the ‘Cuse program means to basketball players. Flynn says he’s been watching MCW progress over the years and is excited for the young Sixer’s future.
“He’s good, man. To me, he’s like a poor man’s Penny Hardaway right now,” Flynn says of the Sixers’ likely starting point guard this season. “Of course, Penny Hardaway was more polished than him when he first came into the League. But with his size, Mike’s gonna learn how to play in this League. There’s no ceiling for him.”
Even though Flynn is trying to get back into the Association that he was basically bounced out of, he’s not shy about being a leader and helping advise his teammates on this Pacers summer league squad. He’s also taken notes on Carter-Williams’ game and expressed what the rookie needs to improve on.
“Probably his jump shot and knowing how to use his floater in the lane,” Flynn says of areas in which MCW needs to work. “A lot of bigs let you get to the rim and allow you to shoot the layup just so they can throw it back to half court,” he laughed. “So, I think if he can just mix in his in-between game—because you know he can already pass off the charts — he’s going to be unstoppable.”
Today, Carter-Williams will likely go up against Oklahoma City’s Reggie Jackson who dropped an OPSL record 35 points on Tuesday against the Pistons. It’s just another challenge MCW will be facing this week and ultimately one he will be learning from at the OPSL.