Originally written on The Sports Post  |  Last updated 6/17/13
Will Michael Carter-Williams be successful in the NBA? (Photo credit) Michael Carter-Williams was the best player on a Syracuse Orange team that made it to the Final Four. The team was up and down all season. They struggled during the end of the regular season, turned things around in the Big East tournament, and finally ended their season with a loss to Michigan in the Final Four. We all know this year's NBA Draft is weak. The presumed No.1 pick has more question marks than "The Riddler." Despite all of this, the crop of point guards is surprisingly solid. Trey Burke, C.J. McCollum, Shane Larkin, and Carter-Williams could all be picked in the top-12. It is Carter-Williams, though, who will be the biggest bust at the NBA level. Carter-Williams left Syracuse after his sophomore season in order to cash in as a nearly guaranteed lottery pick. He left fellow teammates C.J. Fair and Rakeem Christmas, who both decided to return to school. Carter-Williams saw his minutes increase by nearly 25 per game in 2012-13 as he became a starter. His stats grew at a similar clip, but Carter-Williams saw his field goal percentage decrease sharply, from both inside and outside of the arc. He shot 39.3 percent from the field in 2012-13, and just 29.2 percent from three-point range. It’s easy to see Carter-Williams’ ability to penetrate the lane and find the best pass. His issues come when he decides to shoot the ball. Experts are torn over Carter-Williams for this reason. He averaged 7.3 assists per game, but his shooting percentages are just too low. Those who are bullish on Carter-Williams cite his size (6’6”), outstanding court vision and dribbling capabilities as reasons for drafting him in the top-10. Those on the bearish side refuse to get over his poor shooting ability. Carter-Williams shot 39 percent of his shots from the field last season, and his lack of connection on most of them is startling. Granted, when he gets to the rim, he connects 62 percent of the time, but that’s much easier to do against Seton Hall than it is against the Pacers. The only way Carter-Williams can rise to elite status is if he can improve his jump shot. Even if he were to shoot less, he would be a single threat point guard, prone to being swallowed up by larger defenses. Another year in college couldn’t have hurt his shooting progression, but Carter-Williams declared himself for the draft. So, let’s take a look at where he stacks up against some of the NBA’s best point guards. Since his passing is his strength, his assist percentage is a good first indicator. Carter-Williams had an assist percentage of 40 in 2012-13, which would place him in seventh among point guards in 2012. Not too bad. But, his two-point shooting percentage would place him well outside the top 30 among current players at his position. Each point guard with a higher assist percentage than Carter-Williams also has a two-point field goal percentage above 45. NBA point guards have to be able to both shoot and pass.   Now, Carter-Williams' 40 percent assist percentage is truly impressive. Trey Burke, Shane Larkin, and C.J. McCollum all have lower figures in this category, and Burke is the only one who comes remotely close (37.2). So, Carter-Williams has the tools to become a successful NBA player, but will he become one? I just wonder if he really is a top-10 talent. Being a single threat on the offensive end doesn’t make you an All-Star. Let’s face it when you have a top-10 pick, you realistically think he can become a great player, no matter how strong of a draft it is. Picking Carter-Williams before Trey Burke would be a huge mistake. Any team looking to draft a point guard will look to Burke first. Burke could last all the way until pick No. 5 or 7. The New Orleans Pelicans drafted their future point guard last year: Austin Rivers. I doubt they will go for either prospect at pick 6 despite Rivers’ struggles. That leaves the Kings to presumably take Burke at 7. Assuming that happens, who will take Carter-Williams, and will it be the right pick? Carter-Williams could go to the Pistons at No. 8. They already have Brandon Knight, but he could become a 2-guard, especially playing next to a point with the size to guard 2’s. Knight can shoot and Carter-Williams can pass. They would be a big, effective combination. This is the only team that could rationalize picking Carter-Williams in the top-10. The Timberwolves and Blazers, who own the next two picks, are looking to add shooters, and I have a tough time seeing either team picking Carter-Williams to fill that void. The Thunder could go point guard at No. 12, the Mavs think they can grab Chris Paul, so they’ll pass, leaving us with Utah Jazz at No. 14. If Carter-Williams is somehow available here, that is a steal. The Jazz need a point guard and would prefer some athleticism. He could fit in well with the Jazz system. It is hard to pinpoint where Carter-Williams will actually land, but it will be somewhere between No. 8 and 14. Anything earlier is a mistake. By: Sam Barder
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