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NBA Draft 2013: Michael Carter-Williams scouting report

Michael Carter-Williams' physical tools make him a prospect with a lot of upside. We analyze the Syracuse point guard's game.

Kevin C. Cox

SB Nation is posting scouting reports of each prospect in the 2013 NBA Draft. Learn more about Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

NAME: Michael Carter-Williams.

SCHOOL: Syracuse.

AGE ON DRAFT DAY: 21 years, eight months.

POSITION: Point guard.

MEASUREMENTS: 6'6, 185 pounds, 6'7 wingspan, 8'4 standing reach.


FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
2012 - Michael Carter-Williams 40 35.2 3.9 9.9 39.3 0.9 3.0 29.2 3.2 4.7 69.4 1.3 3.6 4.9 7.3 3.4 2.8 0.5 2.3 11.9

RELEVANT ADVANCED STATS: 49 true-shooting percentage this season. I'm willing to look past it, but that's why he isn't as high on most boards.


NBA CEILING: Rajon Rondo.

NBA FLOOR: Shaun Livingston (post-injury).


After biding his time behind Dion Waiters and Scoop Jardine as a freshman, Michael Carter-Williams exploded onto the national scene this year. The best Syracuse player since Carmelo Anthony, he led the Orange to their first Final Four in a decade, averaging 12 points, seven assists, five rebounds and three steals on 39 percent shooting from the field, 29 percent from three-point range and 64 percent at the free-throw line.

A lightning-quick 6'6, 185-pound point guard with a 6'7 wingspan, he has the most eye-popping physical dimensions in this year's draft. As a rookie, he'll be one of the quickest and longest point guards in the NBA.

While Carter-Williams can struggle with his decision-making at times, he makes up for it with the ability to see over the top of the defense and make every pass in the book. He has the quickness, ball-handling and passing skills to create a shot, either for himself or his teammates, at will.

If he could consistently knock down the shots he creates, he would be in the running for the No. 1 pick. Unfortunately, he can't. While that may improve with time, he couldn't punish defenses for sagging off him this season.

However, that isn't necessarily a death sentence in the NBA. Rajon Rondo and Ricky Rubio have succeeded without a consistent jumper. Carter-Williams can, too. He can single-handedly change the tempo of the game, either by forcing turnovers and clearing the defensive glass. Most of Jim Boeheim's players struggle with the transition to man-to-man defense, but Carter-Williams has the tools to be a dynamic player on that side of the ball.

His size allows him to share a backcourt with any type of guard. As a point guard who can defend shooting guards and even smaller small forwards, he will give the team that drafts him a tremendous amount of roster flexibility.



The team that drafts Carter-Williams has to give him the keys to their offense. He can't play with another PG or with a low-post scorer who needs floor spacing on the perimeter. He doesn't make sense on 90 percent of the teams in the NBA, which is why his draft stock will be so interesting to watch. Ideally, he would wind up on an NBA team built like Syracuse, with athletic big men who can run the floor and dead-eye shooters who can space it.

Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician, SB Nation's Syracuse blog:

The best-case comparison is Rajon Rondo with a young Jason Kidd's size. Both Rondo and Kidd came into the League with spotty jump shots and both ended up being NBA champions and NBA All-Stars. I'm not sure if those type of accolades are in the cards for Carter-Williams, but there's precedent for successful leads guards with shaky jumpers. More likely MCW ends up in the mold of Shaun Livingston (hopefully without the horrific knee injury).

Troy Nunes is an Absolute Magician (different author), via SLC Dunk:

I think that, like so many guys who enter the NBA Draft early, he's a guy with a whole lot of potential but who has a lot of work to do. First and foremost, he's got to put some meat on those bones. That kind of lanky build works fine in college, but he'll get pushed around in the pros. Basketball-wise, he's got work to do on his shot and his consistency. He's got great fundamentals (defense, passing) but he can't be a one-trick pony in the NBA. MC-Dubz, as we like to call him, plays smart (mostly) and he's capable of beating you with points, assists or defense, and sometimes all three at the same time.

Celtics Blog:

Standing at 6'6, Michael Carter-Williams will remind some people of Shaun Livingston. However, unlike Livingston, Carter-Williams is an excellent defensive player. He was sixth in the nation in steals, averaging 2.74 per game. Carter-Williams' length allows him to pick off and tip passes with ease. He clogs the passing lanes and has amazing instincts. Despite playing in a zone at Syracuse, he has shown the ability to be a strong man-to-man defender.

Canis Hoopus:

Carter-Williams' career at Syracuse has shown him to be an excellent passer, top-tier ball-thief, and atrocious shooter who's best scoring option is getting fouled. I really like the Nate McMillan comparison above; however, my favorite optimistic comp is probably Ricky Rubio. Very similar physical profiles, strengths, weaknesses, and approaches to the game. I should note that both Rubio and McMillan probably have/had a more positive impact on their team than is captured in their Win Shares. The dish'n'defend game seems to look better in on/off and play-by-play measures than box-scores can capture. If this is true, MCW's prospects may be a bit more optimistic than the above predictions.

Sactown Royalty:

Michael Carter-Williams is the best playmaker next to Pierre Jackson, but Carter-Williams has the added bonus of being much taller than most other point guards at 6'6. He's also probably one of the worst shooters in the draft. He makes up for his lack of offense by setting up those who can score, as well as poking lose the ball. His steal rate of 4.7 percent is top among all guards, and that was while playing Syracuse's vaunted zone defense. In the NBA he should be able to make use of his excellent size and athleticism to become a formidable individual defender. He will need to be paired with really good scorers, though.

Pounding the Rock:

Carter-Williams is an excellent prospect. He claims to have modeled his game after "Jason Kidd in his prime," and it shows. He's dynamic in transition, and leads this draft class in both steals and assists. He's an awful shooter, but shooting can be developed.

For more coverage, visit SB Nation's NBA Draft 2013 section.