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Michael Carter-Williams & the NBA Draft: A 'Smart' Decision

It is what is says it is. One man's opinion on the draft prospects of the soon to be former Orange.

With Marcus Smart out of the draft, who is the best PG in the class?
With Marcus Smart out of the draft, who is the best PG in the class?

Continuing our look a the the draft prospects of the departing Orange. Check back for updates as the 2013 NBA draft draws closer.

We've already examined the initial draft projections for Michael Carter-Williams. There have been some recent developments, though, that might affect where MCW is selected come June.

It has been reported that Oklahoma State's standout freshman point guard Marcus Smart has decided to stay with the Cowboys for at least one more season. Smart was projected to be the first PG taken in the upcoming draft. DraftExpress projected him to go as high as third to the Phoenix Suns.

Now that Smart has taken himself off the board, that leaves MCW neck and neck with Michigan's Trey Burke as the best PG of the draft class. I think it's safe to say that Burke is the better overall player right now. He didn't win national player of the year for nothing. But it's also safe to say that Carter-Williams has a higher ceiling and, physically, he makes Burke look like a Hobbit. That may be enough to put MCW over the top for a team looking for a PG in the lottery.

So, now that MCW has a legitimate shot at being the first PG taken, let's look at possible landing spots. Selection order based on the latest DraftExpress mock draft order.

#1- Charlotte Bobcats/Orlando Magic: The Bobcats and Magic are tied for top chance to get the #1 pick in the draft lottery. In either case, I don't think whomever wins it is going to pass up Nerlens Noel, torn ACL and all. There's no way MCW goes here.

#2- Charlotte Bobcats/Orland Magic: This is an interesting spot. Both Orlando and Charlotte could end up here. Both could use a PG. Most mock drafts have Kansas freshman SG Ben McLemore here. Orlando, though, only has two PG on the roster and MCW could eventually end up as an upgrade to Beno Udrih. Charlotte's point guards (Ramone Sessions and Janero Pargo) are backup quality at best and the Bobcats also carry a pair of small shooting guards (Ben Gordon and Kemba Walker) that would benefit defensively from playing along side a big PG like MCW. Still, I think second overall is a bit high for MCW, who still has so much work to do on his game. Unless he's able to really wow scouts in his pre-draft workouts, it's very unlikely he goes here.

#3- Phoenix Suns: The Suns already have four PG on the roster and drafted Kendall Marshall to be the PG of the future. Again, very low chance MCW goes here, even though the mocks had Smart in this spot.

#4- Cleveland Cavaliers: Two words: Kyrie Irving. As much as it would be great to see MCW reunited with his old 'Cuse running mate Dion Waiters, the Cavs aren't going to spend the 4th overall pick on a backup PG. Virtually no chance he goes here.

#5- Detroit Pistons: Very similar to the situation in Phoenix. The Pistons are loaded down with lead guards and have their PG of the future in Brandon Knight. Very small chance of MCW going to Motown.

#6- New Orleans Hornets Pelicans: Outside of the top two projected picks, New Orleans is the next team that really has a need at PG. They only have two on the current roster. Also, the current starter, Greivis Vasquez, is a big 6'6" PG like MCW. This could help MCW's case, since Coach Monty Williams knows the advantages of having a tall lead guard. On the other hand, the already have a tall PG to compliment their shorter SGs (Eric Gordon, Austin Rivers), so why do they need another? I'll peg MCW's chances of landing in NOLA at around 50/50.

#7- Sacramento Kings: Another situation like Phoenix and Detroit where the Kings have a ton of PGs on the roster already. It's a bit different, though, in that none of them are a clear cut "PG of the future" and three of the four (Tyreke Evans, Jimmer Fredette and Toney Douglas) are really more like 2 guards. The Kings might be amenable to getting rid of one of those guys in order to make room for MCW. For what it's worth, Trey Burke is projected to go in this spot. I think MCW might have an edge because the Kings already have a smallish PG on the roster (5'11" Isaiah Thomas). MCW's size could give him the edge over Burke. Also, Thomas' salary is about 1/4 of any of the other PGs on the current roster. It makes financial sense for the Kings to keep him and try to get rid of some of the higher paid players, again, making room for MCW. Dollars might be the determining factor for the cash strapped Maloofs. I'd place MCW's chances of ending up in Sacto at over 50%.

#8- Oklahoma City Thunder- I'll admit that I don't know how one of the best teams in the league secured a lottery pick (likely part of the James Harden trade with Houston), but here the Thunder are. OKC is an interesting spot. Clearly they have a star caliber player in Russell Westbrook running point already. But after him, there's only an aging Derrick Fisher. The eighth pick isn't terribly high to spend a selection on a backup, especially since it's a bonus pick of sorts for OKC. And the Thunder don't having gaping holes in the roster, which gives them some flexibility to reach a bit for a project player. Taking MCW would also give OKC the opportunity to slide Westbrook over to the off guard spot for stretches. A Westbrook/Carter-Williams back court could give teams fits. Plus, former Syracuse assistant Troy Weaver is the assistant GM for the Thunder, so that might give MCW a leg up (unlikely). And, personally, I like the idea of MCW in OKC as a backup. He'd get to play on a good team with a winning culture, learn what it takes to be a professional ball player from the likes of Kevin Durant and would have really no expectations other than to not suck for at least a couple years. It's an ideal situation. I'll put my hope that he goes there at 100%, though my figure at him actually ending up in OKC is closer to 75%.

#9- Washington Wizards: Another situation where the Wiz have the PG of the future in hand. And, unlike OKC, Washington has too many needs to spend a top 10 pick on a backup. Very small chance MCW ends up in D.C.

#10- Minnestoa Timberwolves: Much like the Cavaliers, you only need to look as far as the current starting PG to see why the T-Wolves would have no interest in MCW. They already have a lanky lead guard who can't shoot but has eyes in the back of his head. Why would they want another? Virtually no chance MCW goes here.

#11- Philadelphia 76ers: This one is tough. On the one hand, the Sixers have a solid starter in Jrue Holiday. On the other hand, the backup situation is iffy. Does Philly spend a lottery pick on another reserve? Probably not. They probably look towards trades or free agency instead. Less than 50% chance MCW end up in Philly.

#12- Portland Trail Blazers: This is where DraftExpress currently has MCW going. I recognize that, at this stage, mock drafts are based solely on where teams are projected to pick and the overall ranking of prospects, but I really don't see MCW. It's another team that has the PG of the future already and although the 12th pick isn't terribly high to use on a likely backup, the Blazers aren't that good that they wouldn't be looking for an immediate contributor here. Very low chance MCW ends up here.

#13- Dallas Mavericks: This is where had MCW going before Smart withdrew his name (they've just bumped everyone up a slot since). If MCW is available here, I don't see any way he gets past Dallas. For one, he's just got too much potential to fall out of the lottery altogether, barring a pre-draft injury or some horrible, as yet unknown, character flaw coming to light. And second, the PG situation in Dallas is a mess. They have a crop of four pretty good/decent players there, but no one who is the clear-cut future of the position for the Mavs. They need a legit point player and, if he's able to develop as expected, MCW will be one for a long time. Still, nothing is a sure thing. Mark Cuban might draft Brittney Griner in this spot. I'm going 95% chance MCW lands in Dallas, if he's available.

Stopping here because the last pick in the lottery is Phoenix again. Overall, I'd say MCW has a legitimate chance at being a top 10 pick. There are some teams with a need at PG and he's as good a selection as any, especially now that Smart has been removed from the equation. I don't think that he'll reach his stated goal of being the #1 overall pick but, as the old saying goes, "Reach for the stars and you just might catch the moon".