Michael Carter-Williams has quickly turned into the face of Philadelphia's franchise.
It's hard to believe that six weeks of the NBA season have already taken place.
The Philadelphia 76ers started the season with some of the league's lowest expectations. Many believed (myself included) that the roster was simply too shallow to compete in many games and that it would lead to one of the worst records in the league.
Well, the Sixers have proved us wrong there.
It's way too early to assume or predict where Philly will end the season at. One thing is for sure, though: These guys can play.
Philadelphia has seen a number of players unexpectedly run away with their new roles and opportunities. Here's a look at how well those players have done by coming up with the Sixers power rankings after the first six weeks of the 2013-14 season.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of games played through Dec. 3.
Sixers fans are forced to be patient as we await the Nerlens Noel's return.
None of them have played a single minute of the 2013-14 season.
Richardson is still recovering from a knee injury and won't be back before the end of 2013's calendar year, Moultrie is expected to return around January of 2014 from an ankle injury and Noel's a big question mark. There's no official word about how he's doing after tearing his ACL in February of 2013, but word about him potentially missing the entire season has come out.
Fox Sports' Sam Amico tweeted about Brett Brown's feelings on Noel's knee near the end of October and said:
Sixers coach Brett Brown says rookie Nerlens Noel's return from knee injury is "slow," indicates Noel likely to miss entire season.
The bottom line is that each of their spots on this list is unknown. It'll take them getting into some game action to know where they end up.
Brown hasn't gotten the opportunity to play much.
Lorenzo Brown has played in a very low 29 minutes of action since being acquired on Nov. 20, 2013. It's hard to get a full assessment of his talent and what kind of impact he can make with those kind of numbers.
His best game saw him play 10 minutes, scoring four points and grabbing three rebounds and a steal. Placing him any higher on the list is difficult when his current best output looks like this.
Eight of Philadelphia's 12 losses have come by 14 points or more, so there's a pretty good chance that we'll get the opportunity to properly evaluate Brown as a player when the Sixers find themselves in a blowout. The team isn't any stranger to them.
Williams is new to the team but is slowly getting more minutes
Elliot Williams was acquired at the same time as Lorenzo Brown, but his playing time has looked much different. Williams has played at least 10 minutes in four of his six games in a Sixers uniform and has looked pretty average thus far.
On the bright side, Williams has only racked up three turnovers in 62 total minutes of play. He might not be in much, but he seems to be reliable with the ball when he is. The downside to his game is that he might as well turn the ball over more because he's only shooting 25.0 percent from the field. Shooting that low of a percentage is kind of like turning the basketball over.
Williams will likely continue to get the same kind of minutes as the Sixers move forward. If he wants to play more than he currently is, then he'll need to start producing more on the offensive end of the floor.
Davies is getting quite a lot of playing time for an undrafted rookie.
Most people know of Brandon Davies for his somewhat controversial days at Brigham Young University, but it's time that Philadelphia fans know him for his energy off the bench.
Davies is an undrafted rookie who's averaging 11.6 minutes per game. Not getting drafted has got to hurt a young player's confidence, but it also has to light some kind of fire at the same time. Only 60 people get drafted every year, the rest fall into the undrafted rookie category, and the competition for a job on an NBA roster becomes that much tougher.
Davies' numbers won't impress many people. His 2.1 points and rebounds per game are simply where they are because he's limited in skill at this point of his career. It's his energy that has become what the Sixers look for when he comes off the bench, and it's hard to think that the process of not getting drafted has something to do with that.
Orton needs to work on playing bigger.
Acquiring Daniel Orton just before the start of the regular season has turned out to be a positive move for the Sixers. It's a little unfortunate that we haven't gotten to see all of what he can do, though, because of Philadelphia's style of play.
Philly likes to push the basketball and play a form of small ball. Orton is one of the team's only big guys and is limited in what he can do when the Sixers look to run. Getting points in transition and quick shots isn't conducive to a power forward or centers statistics.
The good news for him is that he took advantage of his big opportunity when it came earlier this year against the Indiana Pacers. Injuries forced Orton into the starting lineup and he thrived by tallying 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks in 36 minutes of action. Putting those numbers up while playing against the NBA's No. 1 defense definitely says something.
The key for Orton moving forward is to keep challenging himself. He's finally starting to see some success and it would be a shame to see him get comfortable with where he's at and not trying to improve.
Allen continues to do just enough to get by.
Lavoy Allen just might be the definition of the word "mediocre."
A third-year player shouldn't be surprised with much that takes place in an NBA game. Especially one like Allen, who is averaging 20.1 minutes per game. This is a guy who's experienced playoff basketball and quite a bit of playing time, so he should be steadily improving, right?
Wrong, wrong, wrong.
Allen has plateaued and it's been terrible to watch. He's played at least 20 minutes or more in eight games this year, yet his highest point total is 10 points. Yes, nine points. It doesn't get much better on the boards, as nine is his greatest output on the glass.
Allen's biggest problem is that he's simply not getting better. He won't be able to last too long in a league where a large number of players are improving.
Thompson is another undrafted rookie, and he's gone as far as cracking the starting lineup
The former Georgetown University product has worked his way into Philadelphia's starting lineup and way up in its team's power rankings.
I wrote an article on the Sixers and their power rankings before the season started. Here's what I said about Hollis Thompson, who I had listed at No. 13:
Thompson did it.
His physical tools and 6' 8" frame are ideal for playing at either shooting guard or small forward. On top of that, he's very quick and has some leaping ability.
At first it looked like he was about a year away from making an NBA roster, but that appears to be wrong. Developing stronger ball-handling skills is in his best interest and will help him stay on Philly's roster.
Thompson looks like a completely different player than the one I was previously referring to, and it's translating to the court incredibly well.
What might be most impressive about his game is what he does when it comes to shooting the ball. Thompson is shooting 33.3 percent from three-point range and 48.5 percent from the field. His shot selection is fantastic, as he rarely ever tries to force anything. Take a look at his shot chart and you'll see that he's taken 30 of his 66 total shots inside the paint and converted on 18 of them.
His decision-making when it comes to shot selection has been excellent and is one of the biggest reasons for his recent success.
Wroten has cooled down a bit since his hot start.
You hate to see injuries halt someone's progress as much as they have with Tony Wroten.
Wroten was on an absolute tear, going for at least 18 points in four of his last five games before hurting his lower back against the Milwaukee Bucks. He returned with a strong 24-point performance after missing two games, but hasn't looked right since, combining for seven points in his last two games.
He has more than bought into the role of sixth man and it's paid off incredibly well for the second-year pro. It would just be a shame to see such progress get delayed by an injury-plagued rest of the season.
Taking some time to fully heal his lower back is in Wroten's best interest because he is an incredibly talented player who gives the Sixers a lot off the bench.
Anderson has continued to succeed after getting moved to the bench.
Let's get this out of the way first. James Anderson has proved that he can be a legitimate starter in the NBA.
Now, with that said, he might be best utilized coming off the bench. Brett Brown's recent move to start Hollis Thompson hasn't slowed Anderson down a bit, as he's scored 30 combined points in the two games since the move.
There are definitely some areas for him to improve on. His shot selection is below average at best. When 4.7 of his 8.9 shots per game are from three-point range, then he starts to risk turning into a one-trick pony. Still though, he does that one trick pretty well, as he's shooting 33.7 percent from behind the arc.
If Brown stays with his current rotation and keeps Anderson coming off the bench, then it'll be up to Anderson to remain focused. That will be the most difficult thing for him to do, as he began the season as a starter.
There's nothing that tells us that Anderson isn't capable of maintaining his focus, though.
Hawes has learned the best ways to use his limited athletic ability.
Let's take a moment to appreciate Spencer Hawes' averages of 16.2 points, 9.9 rebounds and 45.1 percent from three-point range.
Nope, we're not continuing just yet. We'll take a little more time to appreciate his numbers.
Okay, now we're good to move forward. Hawes is playing out of his mind right now, and it isn't just on a game-by-game basis. He's doing it all on a consistent level.
That 45.1 three-point percentage is that much more impressive when you consider that Hawes is taking 4.2 of them per game. His 16.2 points per game look even better when you see that he's shooting 51.0 percent from the field, too.
This might sound a little hyperbolic, but there isn't a weak spot in Hawes' game at the moment. I can't even believe that I typed those words, but it's true.
The real question is how long can he keep it up for?
If the Sixers had to choose between Hawes and Young, then they would end up picking Young.
Deciding between Hawes and Thaddeus Young for this spot wasn't easy. It came down to which player would the Sixers keep if they were told they could only have one?
The answer is Young.
Thad is an incredibly valuable player because of everything he does that doesn't show up in a box score. Everything from his hustle plays, to being able to defend bigger power forwards at only 6'8", to contributing on the offensive end of the floor without getting plays called for him. These all add up into a package who any team would be lucky to have.
The good news for Philly fans is that the Sixers are the ones who currently have him.
Young is the definition of a professional. He goes on the court and plays his tail off, all while never putting the blame of something negative on somebody else.
He's one of the NBA's most underappreciated players, and that's really too bad, because all of his intangibles are rare for a person to possess.
Turner's future with the Sixers might be as frustrating as his face in this photo.
"To trade or not to trade? That is the question."
That's what William Shakespeare wrote, right?
If it was, then he was probably referring to Evan Turner and his future with the Sixers. It's no secret that he's been the talk of trade rumors surrounding Philadelphia for the past year or so, but something about it all has changed.
In the past, all talk of trading him was because he wasn't living up to being the No. 2 pick in the 2010 NBA draft. Now, his 21.5 points, 6.8 rebounds and 3.9 assists per game have people talking about trading him while his stock is high in order to get something or somebody of value back. Turner’s past makes you want to think that his performance thus far is only a fluke, but watching it makes you feel like he’s the real deal.
Regardless of what happens, the bottom line is this: Turner is potentially in the middle of a career-defining year.
That goes for both his statistics and where he ends up playing in the future.
Here's a look at the two players who are most likely to take home the Rookie of the Year award right now.
Michael Carter-Williams has taken over the Sixers and is undoubtedly the point guard of both the present and future.
Averaging 17.7 points, 7.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game are jaw-dropping numbers for any player. Let alone a rookie who was the No. 11 pick in the 2013 NBA draft.
There isn't really much of a way to downplay his performance up to this point either. You could say that 36.7 minutes per game are the reason why his numbers are so high, but that wouldn't be a good argument. Playing that much definitely gives him more opportunities, but how many players in the NBA would average these kind of numbers over the course of six weeks?
Probably not too many.
Carter-Williams is a 22-year-old who's significantly further along than most of us would have guessed. There are still problems with his jumper and decision-making, but let's not forget that he's a rookie.
If he's putting up these kind of numbers with his current problems, then we're all in for a show once he figures out how to shoot and protect the basketball.