Philadelphia is Not a Perfect Fit for Michael Carter-Williams, But It's a Pretty Good One

Mike Stobe

There may have been better landing spots for Michael Carter-Williams, but his future with the rebuilding Philadelphia 76ers has the potential to be a bright one.

There were a few situations that seemed like perfect fits for Michael Carter-Williams. The Oklahoma City Thunder and Dallas Mavericks have recent success and an abundance of established scoring, where the young passer could step in without a ton of pressure and learn the ropes in the NBA. Of the less 'win-ready' teams who may have looked at MCW, I was intrigued by the possibility of him ending up in Sacramento, a young team with new ownership and some interesting pieces like Tyreke Evans and Boogie Cousins already in place.

The Philadelphia 76ers were never really on the radar with young all-star point guard Jrue Holliday on the roster...however, no one thought that Anthony Bennett would be the first overall pick or Cody Zeller would be picked before Nerlens Noel or the Brooklyn Nets would suck out the Boston Celtics lifeforce in the middle of the night while still getting rid of Gerald Wallace's untradeable contract and giving up nothing of major consequence. Basically, last night got weird.

I'm not breaking any new ground by saying it, but there is nowhere worse to be in the NBA than the middle. The NBA draft is such a crap shoot, and the difference between big and small market teams is so vast when it comes to landing prized free agents, that no one survives picking 17th every year. That is where the Jrue Holliday/spectre of Andrew Bynum-led Sixers were going, so they made a prudent moved by stripping it all down and starting all over.

Nothing is expected of the Sixers for the next year or two, depending on how the ping pong balls fall and the draft picks of the present and future turn out, and ultimately, I think that's good for a player like Carter-Williams. The savvy Sixer fan won't be rooting team to lose, per say, but watching the team will be more about observing personal growth than marks in the win column. MCW will have plenty of time to undergo that growth, because he should start in the backcourt alongside Evan Turner from day one. There will be very little pressure to win right away from the outside. MCW also gets to play with his buddy Nerlens Noel, albeit a year later than we all wanted.

It's not all gumdrops and unicorns in Philly, however. As we all know, MCW doesn't respond to poor play very well, as evidenced to his brief blow-up with Boeheim in 2012. While he will get all the playing time he can handle in 2013-14, I don't know how kindly a fiery player like Michael will respond to the idea of being on a rebuilding franchise.

The reason I loved the other fits I listed above for MCW was for their established scoring. Jrue Holliday was the leading scorer for Philly last year, and he's being shipped to Nawlins. Turner is a decent scorer (13.3 ppg last season) but he's been inconsistent in the NBA. Thaddeus Young will presumably be the returning scorer for Philly at 14.8 points per game, but he's not a go-to offensive player by any means. Carter-Williams is probably going to have to shoulder some of the load, which I'm not sure he'll be ready for in year one as he physically adjusts to the game.

The downside of being on a total rebuild, especially being one of two first round picks in a weak draft, is that I'm not convinced that the Sixers need to be totally invested in Carter-Williams. Say Philly lands the third pick in next year's draft and Marcus Smart is staring them in the face coming off another stellar campaign for Oklahoma State, would they pass on him because they have a promising point in MCW? Unless Carter-Williams blows everyone's doors off this season, I doubt it. However, this is all speculation, and Carter-Williams can help control his own destiny by having a strong rookie season.

Overall, Philadelphia is a pretty good situation for the latest Syracuse lottery pick. Looking at it from afar, I still think that the best fit for MCW, whose best skill is setting up other players, would have been as another piece of an almost-finished puzzle for an established franchise. However, as is generally the case for lottery picks, he will have to settle for being a valuable corner piece. Hopefully the Sixers can start to reveal the final picture before they decide to flip the table over again.

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