Philadelphia 76ers: Will Carter-Williams Ever Match Jrue Holiday's Production?
Much of the focus has been on Noel, rated No. 1 in the 2013 class by many experts, and the future first-round pick, which the Sixers hope will help them land another stud in next year's coveted class.
Lost in the shuffle is the man who will have to step into Holiday's shoes: Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams.
Selected with Philadelphia's own No. 11 pick, Carter-Williams will be expected to shoulder the responsibilities once trusted to Holiday. Figuring out whether he can match Holiday step for step requires a look at the measurables and resumes of each player.
The always coveted buzzword "length" is something both players have in spades.
At 6'7" and 6'7.25", respectively, Holiday and Carter-Williams have wingspans that would make pterodactyls jealous. This is an important trait for guards, who need to use every inch of their wingspans to jump into passing lanes, recover to contest shots on pick-and-rolls and finish around larger players in the paint.
Speed and agility are also remarkably similar in the guards. Holiday tested quicker than Carter-Williams in both the lane agility drill and the three-quarter court sprint, but he bested him by razor-thin margins.
Only .04 and .01 seconds separated the two in these drills, indicating that Carter-Williams will be able to utilize similar, if not identical, quickness at the NBA level.
These similar traits only make Carter-Williams' size and explosiveness more intriguing.
Being a full two inches taller than Holiday (6'6" vs. 6'4") gives Carter-Williams a huge advantage in seeing the floor. He'll immediately be one of the tallest players at his position, which will make it easier for him to find shooters and rolling big men for easy buckets.
Couple that height with a 41" vertical, seven inches higher than Holiday's best, and you have a potentially devastating pick-and-roll point guard.
Another way to compare the young point guards is to study how they fared against similar levels of competition. Numbers don't tell the whole story, but they do help show trends and tendencies a player might continue at the next level.
Despite being the Gatorade Player of the Year his senior year of high school, Holiday was relegated mostly to off-ball duties at UCLA in favor of incumbent Darren Collison.
His numbers suffered accordingly.
His 8.5 PPG, 3.8 RPG and 3.7 APG were a huge drop-off from his totals of 25-11-6 in high school. Holiday suffered through more growing pains and role concerns at the pro level before finally arriving as the player many thought he could be in his fourth NBA season.
Carter-Williams' freshman year at Syracuse was similarly forgettable. Averaging a paltry 10.3 MPG in a guard rotation featuring Dion Waiters and Philly native Scoop Jardine, it'd be fair to say no one was pegging MCW for superstardom.
But after assuming the lead guard role this past year for the Orange, Carter-Williams showed off versatility and a knack for setting up his teammates.
His 11.9 PPG, 7.3 APG and 2.8 SPG were solid indicators of the two-way play many hope he'll bring to the Sixers.
Going past traditional numbers, the efficiency with which he played is one reason to be optimistic that Carter-Williams can equal or even surpass Holiday's production.
Carter-Williams had a higher assist-to-turnover ratio (2.15 vs. 1.72) and Player Efficiency Rating (21.3 vs. 18.4) than Holiday in college, which bodes well for the future.
No player comes into or leaves the NBA as a perfect player. Even super prospects like LeBron James go through playoff heartbreaks and numerous battles before their game rounds into the complete package.
The flaw in Holiday's game that keeps him out of the elite echelon of players is his inability to get to the free-throw line consistently. While Holiday has the tools to get into the paint and attack opposing defenses, he has averaged just 2.08 FTA per game between college and the pros.
Without opportunities for easy points at the line, Holiday often has to live and die by his jumper, which is a scary prospect for even the best of sharpshooters.
That leads us to the big hole in Carter-Williams' game: his jump shot. Carter-Williams shot just 39.3 percent from the field in his sophomore year, including 29.2 percent from deep.
All the athletic ability and size in the world won't be as valuable if he can't make teams pay for sagging under screens and giving him space. This is especially confusing considering this blurb from his high school scouting profile via Scouts.com: "Carter-Williams has deep range on his jump shot and is capable of going off the dribble and scoring at all levels."
The trouble with comparing NBA veterans and incoming players is that there's no perfect way to evaluate college and international prospects. Players come from a wide variety of programs that emphasize different systems and playing styles.
There's also a tendency to overrate new, young talent in the chase for guys with higher upside.
Thankfully for Carter-Williams, the positive aspects of his makeup will allow him to be an effective NBA player, even if he can't correct his shooting woes.
The ability to set up teammates and create turnovers will help him have a long career in the NBA. Being a knockdown jump-shooter is the difference between him being a starter or a future All-Star.
Given what we know about Carter-Williams now and Holiday coming into the league, it seems reasonable to say that he has a good chance to match the former Sixer's production.
Plus-level athleticism, efficiency and uncommon size give Carter-Williams a leg up as he enters the league. The opportunity is there for the taking—now all that's left is for him to seize the moment.
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