In his first year as a starter, Michael Carter-Williams led Syracuse to a Final Four appearance while turning NBA scouts' heads in the process.
It's only natural for intrigue to set in. Carter-Williams is a pure, pass-first point guard with the size of a wing. You just don't see many of those.
He finished his sophomore season third in the country in assists without any real experience as a primary facilitator. Carter-Williams has become an immediate lottery candidate thanks to the upside that comes with his physical tools and skill set.
Carter-Williams has unique physical tools for his position, giving him an advantage on both sides of the ball.
At around 6'6'', he usually has around three or four inches on his man or defender. With this type of size, he's able to see over the defense and make plays around it.
But Carter-Williams is also a smooth athlete with serious hops. Watch him sky in for the poster dunk in a play you just don't see from a point guard.
He does lack bulk and muscle, which will make it tougher for him to finish at the rim at the next level, but his touch and length help neutralize his limited strength.
The Table Setter
Though considered a scorer in high school, Carter-Williams' draft stock jumped once we found out he's got the mindset and skill set to handle primary orchestrating duties.
Carter-Williams' best quality is his recognition to find his scorers and willingness to give it up. He gets his other four teammates on the floor easy buckets in the half court and transition because of his breakdown ability, vision and passing skills.
His timing is on point. Carter-Williams has a good feel for getting the ball to his scorers in rhythm.
On the break, he finds shooters around the arc for the catch-and-shoot transition three-pointer.
Drive and Dish
Carter-Williams' long strides and ability to accelerate allow him to get to the rack at a will, which ultimately triggers the defensive collapse and leaves shooters open on the perimeter. The drive-and-dish is an effective play that Carter-Williams makes to create scoring opportunities for teammates who can't create themselves.
Thread-the-Needle Accuracy and Recognition
Carter-Williams is a crafty passer, but it's recognizing the opportunity that allows him to make a play as a table setter.
He's able to slow the game down in his head, even at full speed, and project the routes of his surrounding cutters before hitting them in stride. Check out Carter-Williams thread the needle and feed C.J. Fair for the easy finish:
Offensive Challenges and Weaknesses
Right now, Carter-Williams' jump shot isn't a reliable offensive weapon, and it's limiting him as a scoring threat. He only shot 29.2 percent from downtown, which contributed to his poor 39.3 field-goal percentage.
Defenses have forced Carter-Williams to beat them from the perimeter by taking away his dribble penetration. Without a reliable jumper, he ends up trying to squeeze through cracks he can't fit through, resulting in off-balance shots or unforced turnovers (3.4 turnovers per game).
While he's capable of knocking down floaters and runners, they aren't high-percentage shots. Carter-Williams has to learn to play off two feet instead of one, particularly in the pull-up game on the perimeter. He'll pose as more of a threat to the defenses, who currently have the luxury of going under screens to take away the drive.
NBA Draft Stock
Who's the better prospect?
Carter-Williams' strengths and weaknesses are both highlighted whenever he takes the floor. He consistently makes plays that have you nod your head in a approval, and others that make you squint or curiously scratch your head.
The biggest thing going for him is his long-term upside. None of the other point guards combine his physical tools and skill set. If he ends up working out the kinks in his jumper and improving his decision-making, we could be looking at one of the tougher covers in the NBA.
At this point, the Sacramento Kings, Detroit Pistons and Utah Jazz are all potential landing spots in the lottery.