Throughout the offseason, I, along with Matt Smith, have written some articles highlighting guys that we are high on for this upcoming season — Kawhi Leonard, Kyrie Irving and DeMarre Carroll. You can find the archives for those stories here. But here, I’m gong to go in the opposite direction and talk about a guy that I will be avoiding in pretty much all drafts as I think he’s going o be rated way too highly for my liking. And that player is none other than the reigning rookie of the year, Michael Carter-Williams.
Carter-Williams was in a unique position last season. He came straight into a team with a glaring weakness on their depth chart and was all but guaranteed the starting point guard role from the moment Philadelphia drafted him with the 11th overall pick. Not only was he given a high minute-load, he was also playing on one of the poorest rosters we’ve seen in the NBA in quite a while, with barely an NBA calibre player making their home in Philadelphia.
So, the stage was set for MCW to have a big debut season, to take the fantasy world by storm and became the marquee player from this supposedly weak 2013 draft class. On average, Carter-Williams was drafted at pick 117 on ESPN, most likely the second or third rookie off the board behind Victor Oladipo and perhaps Anthony Bennett.
So, how did he perform in this sort of situation? Well, that’s a tough question to answer. Carter-Williams burst onto the scene, almost recording a quadruple double in his first game, going 22-7-12-9 in an upset of the defending champion Miami Heat. That explosion, I feel, tended to cloud people’s judgement of his season overall and in any league where he went undrafted, he was quickly snapped up. Before I break down anymore of his rookie season, here are Carter-Williams’ stats from 2013-14.
A ranking of 95 is definitely not something to write home about on the surface. It bears mentioning that that ranking is in nine category leagues. If you play in an eight category league, his ranking jumps to 47th. And if you play in a points league, where percentages don’t count (and I highly recommend you don’t play in points leagues, seriously, there are way better options), then he was even more valuable.
The thing to focus on here is the wide disparity between his eight nd nine category value. It’s huge, obviously. As a rookie, he was prone to turnovers as well as horrendous shooting. He may be able to curb those turnovers slightly this season, but with Philadelphia still severely lacking in talent, it’s going to be up to MCW to handle the ball a lot and will need to force a lot of plays, leading to , I think, similar turnover numbers.
The major change from last season to this season is the addition of Nerlens Noel. He is a young stud, but I’d venture to say he’s not near the player that Spencer Hawes was last season, so the overall talent level Carter-Williams is playing with takes a hit in my opinion. In three years time, MCW, Noel, Joel Embiid and K.J. McDaniels are going to be fearsome, but for now, the Sixers are arguably worse than they were last season.
That is not a recipe for Carter-Williams to improve his shooting or ball handling, but there is a slight chance his points, dimes and boards increase, but I’m sceptical. In the ESPN early season rankings, they have MCW sitting at number 34 on their top 130, which is outrageous, but understandable considering it’s most likely based on eight category leagues. The thing is, many people playing in nine category leagues will see this and reach for MCW in the top 50 and will get burnt for it. For me, I’ll wait until round 10 to take a chance on Carter-Williams, but there is almost no situation in which he’ll still be available at that stage.
This is a great example of why the number one rule for fantasy leagues is to know your league’s rules and settings and take that into consideration when looking at rankings. If you’re in a turnover league and look at ESPN’s ranks, you’ll be sorry when you end up with guys who are horribly overdrafted. Carter-Williams, although I do somewhat like his game, is a fantasy player who I’ll be avoiding this season and I’d suggest you do the same.