Who Will Be Philadelphia 76ers X-Factor This Season?
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
We won't stand for it anymore.
Instead, we'll assign the role of x-factor to a different Sixer. One who will be beginning his NBA career during the 2013-14 season.
He goes by the name of Michael Carter-Williams.
Having the responsibility of costing your team by playing poorly or helping your team by playing well, is what comes with being an x-factor. There's a very real pressure, but it's much different than the kind a superstar would see.
A superstar gets credit for a team's success, and gets blamed for its failures. An x-factor only gets recognized for both, even when he could have been the deciding player.
It's time for Carter-Williams to be this guy.
Here are a couple of reasons why.
It's His Rookie Year
When the Sixers selected Jrue Holiday with the No. 17 pick in the 2009 draft, they weren't expecting him to turn into a star. Fast-forward to 2013 and he's an absolute beast who played in his first All-Star game at the age of 22.
He's no longer in Philadelphia, but maybe Carter-Williams will follow a similar career path.
Carter-Williams' future is exactly like Holiday's when he was drafted. It is unanswered. There is no way of knowing what will happen in the future, so a strong rookie season is where it all starts.
If Carter-Williams is smart, he should come out of the gate with an excited and fresh attitude. This is the NBA we're talking about. It is a childhood dream of millions and he gets the opportunity to be one of the few people who gets to make it a reality.
There's no reason for him not to hit the court and play like he has finally made it.
A rookie season for a player who's set to see big minutes is full of big highs and sometimes bigger lows. That's exactly what being the x-factor is all about.
There is bound to be a number of situations where his play ends up dictating the outcome of the final score. Whether it's good or bad is up to Carter-Williams.
An Undeveloped Jumper
Coming into the NBA with an undeveloped jump shot is extremely risky.
It also happens to be exactly what Carter-Williams is doing.
His introduction into the NBA began with the Orlando Pro Summer League. He came out and dropped 26 points in his first game which looked great, but there were some warning signs right from the jump.
Shooting 8-23 wasn't the worst thing in the world, however, going 0-6 from three-point range was nowhere near adequate. Maybe he was experiencing butterflies, considering it was his first game?
If butterflies were the reason for his disappointing play, then they never left his body because his shooting only got worse. Carter-Williams ended the summer shooting 23-85 from the field, including 3-19 from three-point range.
Going 27.1 percent from the field and 15.8 percent from deep is atrocious.
Add in 20,000 or more screaming fans on any given night and we find out if Carter-Williams rises or falls under more pressure.
A bad jumper could potentially be the 21-year-old's' biggest downfall and what could end up deciding his role as Philadelphia's x-factor.
His Passing Ability
Poor shooting is Carter-Williams' weakest trait, but his passing ability almost completely makes up for any kind of shot he takes.
The man knows how to get the ball to whoever is in position to score.
Clint Johnson wrote an article for saltcityhoops.com breaking down three of the top point guards in the 2013 NBA draft. Here's what he had to say about Carter-Williams and his passing ability:
While I won’t go as far as others in declaring MCW the best playmaker in the draft, I see the skills that make people say this. Carter-Williams has excellent court vision in both the full and half court. He is particularly good at kicking out to shooters after driving to the hoop. From the perimeter, he has uncommonly accurate skip passes and uncanny vision and anticipation for lobs and alley-oops.
He is also excellent at advancing the ball up court in the fast break using the pass to teammates who have leaked out and bypassed the defense. His height also gives him the ability to see and pass over a defense, an advantage he sometimes accents by jumping to pass, though this sometimes gets him in trouble. His ability to consistently make simple, functional passes and feed the post are somewhat questionable, partially due to the offense he ran at Syracuse, but overall, he is a very good passer.
Please excuse the long quote, it is just a great example of what some see in Carter-Williams and his ability to make the right pass.
Being a great passer is exactly what being an x-factor is all about.
Who will be Philadelphia's x-factor?
Picture an end of game scenario where the Massachusetts-born player breaks his defender down off the dribble and kicks the ball to Spencer Hawes for the game winning jump shot. Hawes would get the majority of the credit for knocking down such a clutch shot, but the play wouldn't have happened if it weren't for Carter-Williams at the point.
Carter-Williams would be the x-factor in that play.
Being such a great passer will come with a number of turnovers because of trying too hard, but he should be able to clean up most of that from his game. It just might take a little time.
Carter-Williams is a point guard and will control the basketball for most of the game. He'll be in positions to either take the shot or make the right pass.
His decisions will eventually dictate a large amount of Philadelphia's success.
A large enough amount that we can safely call Carter-Williams the Sixers x-factor for the 2013-14 season.
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