The Philadelphia 76ers were supposed to be competing for one of the worst records in the league. Even after the unexpected hot start, the Sixers are continuing to show heart. One reason behind this is rookie coach Brett Brown, who has established a career around player development.
The Sixers released All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday to give Brown the opportunity to build up a young team while they struggled through the season. Michael Carter-Williams, the rookie out of Syracuse, isn’t showing signs of defeat as he is still developing into a franchise stud.
MCW, who missed a few games recently, is averaging 17.4 points and 7.6 assists per game to start his career. Having the chance to sit back and watch should have helped him get back to that kind of production. What MCW is still struggling with is his premeditated shooting decisions. He is doing a great job slicing up defenses and using larger players like Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner to open up the court with pick-and-rolls, but there is still room for improvement.
Carter-Williams is only shooting 13-46 on the season as a pick-and-roll ball handler. Now that doesn’t account for some of the strong work he’s done passing out of the pick-and-roll, but when teams have forced the rookie to be a scorer in these situations, Carter-Williams has been pretty inefficient. One crucial way teams have been defending MCW is by having his defender go under the screen. For the most part, what Carter-Williams has to do in these situations is make the defense pay for going under by knock down a jumper. He is missing most of these chances, but if the process is good, then it’s not that bad.
What is bad is when he makes up his mind too quickly. Carter-Williams often anticipates the one dribble shot before the screen is already set. This gets him into trouble when open paint is just one pass away. When the rookie decides to shoot a three off the dribble, the key is to have proper balance. If the defender does a solid job at getting under the screen and MCW already knows he’s pulling up, the result is an off balance shot.
MCW is still learning the tricks of the point guard trade, specifically how to run pick-and-roll. As the year goes on, hopefully we’ll see more variety when defenders decide go under the screen on him. The potential of MCW is remarkable and Brett Brown knows it.
“You walk down during no contact (drills) and say, ‘What would you do, who do you think should have the ball?’ and he’ll deliver good answers,” said Brown. “I just feel that he’s very inquisitive, he’s got a good point guard’s mentality and I think he has a feel during the game that’s impressive for his age.”
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