Poets on Sports

Michael Carter-Williams: An Exercise in Cautious Optimism

by Karissa Morton

 

I’m a longtime Syracuse fan. Don’t ask me how or why this happened because I’m not really sure.  NCAA-wise, I have a lot of teams I root for1, but for as long as I can remember, there’ve been only two kings for me: the Syracuse Orange & the Duke Blue Devils.  I love the way Syracuse plays–fast-paced & intense ball.  Boeheim’s guys play like their lives are on the line week after week, year after year, & they always work together as one scrappy yet incredibly cohesive unit.2  Michael Carter-Williams was clearly a star on last year’s Final Four team, & while I spent the summer hyping him to anyone who’d listen, I really didn’t expect him to go as early as he did (11th) in the Draft.  For some reason, Carter-Williams never received the widespread acclaim that I–as a biased fan, admittedly–thought he deserved, but regardless, I was pleasantly surprised to see him go early.

The fact that he ended up at one of my two NBA teams (the Sixers & the T-Wolves, for the curious) was the icing on the cake for me!  I figured I’d be in for a year of watching Carter-Williams do well, but not be incredibly noticed–just like had happened in the NCAA.

Instead, when the Sixers game wrapped up last night & I was able to process Michael Carter-Williams’ stats, I cried.  I don’t mean this figuratively–I mean there were literal tears in my literal eyes.  My little Orange had grown up!  I followed along excitedly as Twitter proclaimed it “the best NBA debut in history,” saw Magic Johnson peg him as Rookie of the Year, & this morning on the way to work, heard CBS Sports gushing about how he’d outshone LeBron.  I’m still beaming almost 24 hours later.

 

Here’s a summary:  22 points.  12 assists.  9 steals.  7 rebounds.

 

So what does this mean?  He tied Ernie DiGregorio’s record for the most assists in an NBA debut, & set a record for the most steals in an NBA debut.  Those nine steals?  Also the most in Sixers franchise history.  Wait–it gets better:  His 22-12-9-7 numbers have been beaten only twice by anyone in any game in NBA history–not just rookies.  Perhaps most surprising to me–even as a MCW fan–is the fact that he only turned the ball over once all game long.  At Syracuse, he led the nation in turnovers, so this was nothing short of a miracle.

 

On the whole, a lot of last night was a miracle for MCW.  I want to have hope that last night was a sign of things to come for him & the Sixers, but I can’t bring myself to do it.  He’s a good player–a strong, smart player with a lot of factors working in his favor–but it feels a little bit like the clock’s going to strike midnight & he’ll have to climb back into the pumpkin.

His crazy number of dimes & his finesse with the pick-&-roll?  Par for the course based upon his college performance, & for me, there’s no doubt that these skills will stick throughout the season.  His speed, athleticism, size, & foresight are all huge pluses that will help him continue to put up numbers–especially against weaker defenses.  All-in-all, I don’t see how any other rookie will be able to compete with him in terms of number assists or number of steals.  Here’s where I’m wary, though: the shot.  He never put up 22 points at Syracuse.  Ever.  His average of 12 there even outshines his preseason average of 8.

This is not to say that I don’t think MCW can shine in Philly–& potentially even become a star.  He’ll certainly be a standout on the Sixers for the foreseeable future, what with Nerlens Noel being benched for the season, but what does that really mean?  It could very well mean a lot–but I don’t think it means Rookie of the Year.

 

 

___

1 Amongst them:  Syracuse, Duke, Iowa, Georgetown, Gonzaga, Villanova, Marquette.  Only amongst them for their coach:  UCLA.  Definitely not amongst them:  Kansas.

2 Because they are so scrappy & physical, I have fears about how they’ll handle themselves as new members of the ACC–or rather, how refs will handle them since the ACC is traditionally less physically aggressive than the Orange.

Advertisements

About Karissa

Karissa Morton is originally from Des Moines, Iowa & currently lives in Denton, Texas. She's a poet/sportswriter/teacher/editor who loves American Horror Story, X-Files, Hannibal, football, basketball, fantasy sports, Jeopardy, poker, horse racing, craft beer, learning Danish, & cats. If you want to talk about Jessica Lange being the one true god, then she's your girl.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Information

This entry was posted on October 31, 2013 by and tagged , , , , , , .
%d bloggers like this: