Michael Carter-Williams: I Should Have Been No. 1 Pick

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Michael Carter-Williams: I Should Have Been No. 1 Pick

Michael Carter-Williams must really not want to play for the Philadelphia 76ers.

Relax, I'm kidding. But that is one way his recent comments could be interpreted.

"Every game I try to prove that I could've been the No. 1 pick," Carter-Williams told Yahoo! Sports' Marc J. Spears recently. "I have confidence in myself that I should've been."

No doubt being selected first overall would've immediately boosted his status, but it also means he wouldn't be playing for the Sixers. Furthermore, he'd also be with the Cleveland Cavaliers, buried behind Kyrie Irving and Dion Waiters unless they traded him.

Let's just read this as a mission statement, then. That's what it is, after all; Carter-Williams just wants to prove he was good enough to be taken higher than No. 11.

So far, so good there.

Anthony Bennett, the actual No. 1 pick, didn't convert his first shot of the season until Game 5. Philly's point guard, meanwhile, has been tearing it up.

Michael Carter-Williams vs. Anthony Bennett
Player GP MPG PTS REBS ASTS FG% 3P% PER
Bennett 5 12.2 1.0 3.2 0.2 0.050 0.091 1.5
Carter-Williams 5 35.4 19.8 5.0 7.6 40.0 35.7 21.3

Via Basketball-Reference

Admittedly, comparisons to Bennett don't mean much at this point. Cleveland's rookie is off to a historically bad start and it would also be cause for alarm if Carter-Williams was doing the same.

Proving he should have been the top pick is about more than outperforming Bennett, though—it's about separating himself from everyone in his draft class, which he's already done.

Ned Dishman/Getty Images
MCW has fared better than Bennett...and every other rookie.

Currently, Carter-Williams leads all rookies who have played in at least two games in points, assists, steals and PER. He's also third in rebounding.

Averages of 20.7 points, 9.0 assists and 4.3 steals through his first three games earned him Eastern Conference Player of the Week honors, too, making him the first rookie since Shaquille O'Neal to win the award after his first week.

In his first game of the year against the Miami Heat, he also led the Sixers to an improbable victory while becoming the only player in NBA history to record nine steals in a regular-season debut.

At every turn, there has been Carter-Williams, soaring above fellow neophytes and cementing himself as the present Rookie of the Year favorite.

Sustaining this kind of production will grow more difficult as the season trudges on and opposing teams and scouts become familiar with his play style. But his preliminary results are beyond encouraging.

"He patted me on the back and said, 'Good job,'" Carter-Williams told Spears of his interaction with LeBron James after the Sixers took down the Heat. "Coming from a great player like that, yeah, it did mean something."

If Carter-Williams' early performance means anything, then he's well on his way to playing like a No. 1 pick.

 


 

*All stats in this article come from Basketball-Reference unless otherwise attributed and are accurate as of November 7, 2013.

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