Comparing Michael Carter-Williams to Philadelphia 76ers' Best Rookie Debuts
Being selected with the No. 11 pick in the NBA draft doesn't usually come with the highest of expectations. Carter-Williams has proved that it's more about the player selected than what pick they end up being taken with.
Averaging 17.7 points, 7.3 assists, 5.8 rebounds and 3.1 steals per game is pretty much ridiculous. There is still a ton of basketball to be played, but continuing to put these kind of numbers up would solidify Carter-Williams' rookie season among some of Philadelphia's best.
Let's compare his ongoing rookie year to some of Philly's top ones throughout the years.
All statistics in this article are accurate as of games played through Dec. 18 and are taken from Basketball-Reference.com.
Clarence Weatherspoon, Rookie Year: 1992-93
When talking about the best players to wear a Sixers jersey, Clarence Weatherspoon's name probably wouldn't come out of Philadelphia fans' mouths. That's not a knock on him at all, injury problems just forced his skills to diminish quicker than he would have liked, and only playing five and a half years in Philadelphia doesn't help.
His might not have the same name recognition as some of the other guys on this list, but he did start his career out with somewhat of a bang. Weatherspoon averaged 15.6 points, 7.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals in 32.4 minutes per game. His numbers were good enough to warrant a spot on the NBA's All-Rookie Second Team.
There's a glaring weakness in Weatherspoon's rookie campaign that Carter-Williams isn't suffering from. Spoon only averaged 1.8 assists per game. Sure, he was a power forward, but compare Carter-Williams' 5.8 rebounds per game for a point guard and you can see a big difference.
It's a difference big enough to give Carter-Williams the edge here.
The stats might not be on Spoon's side, but he does have durability going for him. He played and started in all 82 games of his 1992-93 rookie year. The verdict is still out on how many games Philly's new point guard will miss this year.
Charles Barkley, Rookie Year: 1984-85
Charles Barkley is one of the NBA's 50 greatest players of all time. His career averages of 22.1 points and 11.7 rebounds per game do all of the necessary talking. His numbers are more than all there, but Barkley's rookie year has to be considered as his worst season.
The term "worst season" is kind of crazy, though, because it was still a great year. Barkley put up 14.0 points, 8.6 rebounds and a shooting percentage of 54.5. The wild part is that this was the only season in Barkley's 16-year career in which he didn't average a double-double.
If we're strictly comparing rookie seasons, then we have to go with Carter-Williams over Barkley on this one. The advantage comes from what the Syracuse University product does on the defensive end of the floor.
Barkley only averaged 1.2 steals and a block per game. Compare that to Carter-Williams' league-leading 3.1 steals per game and you see a bit of a difference.
Philly's current point guard might have won this battle, but putting together a career as good as or better than Barkley's will be much more difficult than beating his 1984-85 rookie campaign.
Jerry Stackhouse, Rookie Year: 1995-96
Jerry Stackhouse might be one of the most underrated scorers in the past 25 years. For instance, did you know that he averaged 29.8 points per game during the 2000-01 season? He finished second in the league to none other than Allen Iverson. He was never the most efficient of scorers, but he always found a way to put up points.
Stackhouse came into the league proving that he could put the ball in the hoop by averaging 19.2 points per game while shooting 41.4 percent from the field and 31.8 percent from three-point range. His 3.9 assists and 3.7 rebounds per game were solid, but not anything to write home about.
Stack's glaring weakness was his 3.5 turnovers per game. Carter-Williams most likely won't top more than Stackhouse's point totals, but his current 3.7 turnovers per game don't look too bad when you consider that he's averaging 7.3 assists as well.
The better scorer was clearly Stack, but when it comes to overall game, Carter-Williams has this one locked up as well.
Julius Erving, NBA Rookie Year: 1976-77
Julius Erving had a bit of an unfair advantage when it came to his rookie season in the NBA.
He had already spent five years in the ABA prior to joining the NBA. There's no question that playing in the ABA helped prepare him for what was to come with the Sixers, but he was still a monster regardless of any earlier professional experience.
If you want to look at his first season with the Sixers, then his 21.6 points, 8.5 rebounds, 3.7 assists, 1.9 steals and 1.4 blocks per game are incredible numbers for his first year in the NBA. If you want to look at his rookie season in the ABA, then his 27.3 points, 15.7 rebounds and 4.0 assists don't make Erving look any worse.
We'll compare Carter-Williams to Erving's first run with the Sixers, but it really doesn't matter. The Doctor's 1976-77 season in Philadelphia was exceptional and he showed how to make an impact in every facet of the game. He also led the Sixers to the NBA Finals.
Carter-Williams can't be blamed for the tank job currently taking place in Philadelphia, but Erving's instant individual and team success are more than enough for the win here.
Allen Iverson, Rookie Year: 1996-97
Allen Iverson is one of the greatest players in NBA history. This statement clearly translates to his years in Philadelphia, and he wasted no time in getting his career off to big start.
Iverson averaged 23.5 points, 7.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.1 steals in 40.1 minutes per game. It doesn't take long to see that his numbers are actually pretty similar to Carter-Williams'.
Iverson clearly put up a lot more points, but Carter-Williams has the edge on him in most of the other statistical categories, including turnovers, where The Answer averaged 4.4 in his rookie year. If this is the case, then what's the difference between their rookie runs?
Better yet, which season is better?
On paper they are pretty similar, but the actual game says differently. Both players are and were incredibly dynamic. Iverson brought amazing speed and a ridiculous crossover to the league, and Carter-Williams brings great length and size to the point guard position.
The difference is in durability and toughness.
Iverson might have constantly played the game with some kind of injury, but he stayed on the court. Being hurt rarely kept him away from the floor, and that held true during the 1996-97 season where he played in 76 of the Sixers’ 82 games. If Carter-Williams didn't miss another game for the rest of the season, then he would only have played in 71 of Philadelphia's games.
It's pretty fitting that this battle comes down to toughness. You obviously can't help when you get hurt or injured, but there was no denying Iverson's toughness, and it began from his first year in the NBA.
Wilt Chamberlain, Rookie Year: 1959-60
Let's preface this section by stating that Wilt Chamberlain's 1959-60 rookie season was with the Philadelphia Warriors. It was Philadelphia's NBA basketball franchise at the time.
Is comparing anything between Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Carter-Williams even fair?
One peek at Chamberlain's rookie numbers and you'll see that it's probably not.
Wilt the Stilt averaged a modest 37.6 points and combined it with 27.0 rebounds per contest. Blocks weren't officially recorded until the 1973-74 season, but it's probably safe to assume that Chamberlain threw a number of shots away from the basket during his first year.
The most likely of arguments is that Wilt might have put up these crazy numbers, but he was doing it during a time where the game was slower and players were significantly shorter than his 7'1" height. All of that might be true, but it doesn't discredit how ridiculous averaging more than 37 points and 27 rebounds over the course of a season is.
Carter-Williams would need to be averaging close to a triple-double to be anywhere near competing with Chamberlain on this one.
Winner: The Big Dipper