Grading the Syracuse Orange- Michael Carter-Williams

Where MCDubz plans on meeting one Nerlens Noel.

Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician is putting a bow on the 2011-12 Syracuse Orange basketball season by recapping how each scholarship player performed and looking forward to what lies ahead in 2012-13. In honor of their status as student-athletes (insert Fab Melo joke here) we will score each player’s performance on an A-F scale, and offer some suggestions on what they can work on in the offseason (a.k.a. "summer school").

Michael Carter-Williams

Height: 6’5"
Year: Freshman
Position: Guard
Number: 1
MPG: 10.3
PPG: 2.7
APG: 2.1
TOPG: 0.6

Passing Grades:

In an Orange backcourt that was loaded with talent, Michael Carter-Williams was the odd man out in 2011-12. Everyone ahead of him on the depth chart was either older, more experienced or just flat out better, and that's not to mention the already red-shirted freshman Trevor Cooney on the bench. MCDubz didn't get a whole lot of burn, especially in the latter half of the season, but when he did, he played the kind of smart, efficient ball that gave us fans confidence in the future of Syracuse basketball. The thing that most stood out about him was his decision making. In limited action, MCW posted a sparkling assist to turnover ratio of over three to one. Of course it's easier to post such good numbers when most of his minutes in garbage time and against inferior opponents, but the quality of the opponent doesn't diminish the quality of the decisions made. This knack for making the right play carried over to his shooting as well. MCW shot 7-18 from three point distance, the highest three point percentage (.389) among scholarship players, showing a decent stroke from range while resisting the urge to throw up threes in garbage time.

(You know, in case the whole basketball thing doesn't work out.)

Needs Work: It's hard to assess a player who saw so little meaningful action over the season, but those are the breaks for most freshmen. Carter-Williams has the tools to be a great Syracuse point guard; length, athleticism, vision. He just needs the experience, especially on defense. Many Syracuse fans were clamoring for MCW to get some more burn, especially during the latter portion of the regular season when the Orange were struggling. The idea was that the frosh would be able to inject new life into what had become a stagnant Syracuse offense. While this may be true, he stayed on the bench because of his defensive shortcomings. This isn't to say that MCW is a poor defender. Only that the 2011-12 squad was a defensive team first and the defense depends on all five players being in the right spot at the right time. Carter-Willams is still learning the nuances of the Syracuse 2-3 zone. Once he has those down, his lanky 6'5" frame should terrorize opposing guards in the years to come.

Summer School: Much like fellow stick man Baye Keita, MCW's first order of business in the offseason is to hit the weights. He's shown the ability to take the ball inside, but he's going to need to add strength to his lithe frame if he's going to be effective as the long-term point guard starting next season. MCDubz could also put a little work into tightening up his handle. His rangy arms make him look looser with the ball than he really is, but his dribble is a bit wild for a PG and it could cause turnover issues once he's tasked with being the primary ball handler.

Final Grade: B

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