On the heels of his star-making turn in the East regionals held at the Verizon Center and the subsequent trip to the Final Four, Syracuse product Michael Carter- Williams entered the NBA Draft on Wednesday.
Should the Wizards pick in the middle or toward the back of the lottery pack, the lengthy 6-foot-5 point guard could be the call.
Wait, what? Why on earth would the Wizards draft a point guard??? Ben, the long season has messed with your brain. Get some rest and walk away from the laptop. Signed, Ben.
I get the skepticism, from others, and myself especially once the sophomore's at times shaky on-court decisions and 29.2 3-point field goal percentage enters the equation. Even though John Wall's touch from beyond the arc improved over the course of the season, he's hardly a knockdown shooter so having another suspect shooting floor leader seems unwise.
However...Carter-Williams (or MCW has he'll be referred going forward) is a triple-double waiting to happen. He brings oodles of skills and intangibles that would help the Wizards. DraftExpress.com currently ranks MCW 12th among the 2013 prospects.
Though the final few games could shift their draft position, the Wizards are likely to finish in the 8-10 range barring teams jumping ahead of them in the actual lottery selection. One former NBA front office member told me it would not surprise him if in the future MCW wound up the top player in the draft.
Back to the Wizards. Starting with the obvious, MCW plays point guard and as of next week Wall will be the only point guard on the roster.
Randy Wittman's offensive mantra all season has been about ball movement. Attitude aside, this is why the ball-dominant Jordan Crawford is no longer in Washington. Through 35 games of the regular season, MCW averaged 7.7 assists, third in the nation. Sometimes a playmaker maintains possession while looking to pad their assists totals (Rajon Rondo has been accused of such things), but court vision is one of MCW's finer qualities.
Defensively MCW smothered smaller guards (like Michigan's Trey Burke) with his height and imposing wingspan, which would also allow him to defend wing guards and some small forwards. That length helped him average 2.8 steals and 4.9 rebounds per game last season. With the 6-foot-4 Wall and the still-growing 6-foot-4 Bradley Beal, the Wizards would have one of the taller backcourts in the league yet still possess tons of speed and quickness.
Offensively the Wizards could even use those three guards on the court together. MCW's passing presence would overtly allow Wall to focus on scoring at times rather than as a facilitator. With his knack for understanding the angles, Carter-Williams is adept at getting up shots in traffic. He averaged 11.9 points this season and dropped 24 against Indiana in the NCAA Tournament. In his two tournament games at the Verizon Center, MCW went 4 for 7 from beyond the arc.
So based on all of that, how is Michael Carter-Williams not a top-3 pick? Offensively he can disappear for entire games, as evidenced by the two points and two assists showing versus Michigan in the National semifinals plus several Big East games. With great court-vision comes great responsibility and MCW's decision-making is not always up to the challenge. The perimeter shooting isn't NBA ready, but there is evidence to suggest over time it will be.
If the Wizards decide A.J. Price is again the man for the backup point guard role, then Carter-Williams is off the table. Should a small forward like Georgetown's Otto Porter or an athletic frontcourt presence like UNLV's Anthony Bennett slide to them, expect Washington to go in that direction.
It's also conceivable none of that happens and in a suspect draft with almost no sure things, the Wizards are in best-player-available mode. At that point, folks might have to start talking themselves into realizing that adding another point guard is the right call.