Why did Washington pass on Michael Carter-Williams?

Why did Washington pass on Michael Carter-Williams?
November 1, 2013, 4:45 pm
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If the 2013-14 NBA Rookie of the Year voting took place before Friday night's action commences, there would be no actual reason to vote. 76ers rookie Michael Carter-Williams would be the runaway winner. That is unless folks found some flaw with his 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals, seven rebounds NBA debut in a 114-110 stunning win over Miami. 

Fine, guess we should play out the remaining 80-plus games for each team before declaring who takes home the trophy. Regardless, Carter-Williams should be in the consideration by season's end. The 76ers are expected to severely struggle this season - opening night will end up as Philly's best night this season - so the lengthy point guard won't have any concerns about playing time or getting his numbers.

That means logically or not, folks will compare Carter-Williams -- and really all rookies in ROY contention - to Washington's Otto Porter. The No. 3 overall pick remains sidelined with a hip flexor injury that kept him out for all of preseason.

The non-logical part comes from that fact that the former Syracuse star plays the same position as Wizards star John Wall. Then again, many had no issue advocating for Victor Oladipo in a best-player-available sort of way even though he and Bradley Beal are both wing guards.

The Oladipo push came after the Wizards jumped up to the No. 3 overall selection, though ultimately never mattered since Orlando tabbed the former DeMatha guard with the second pick. Way back in April, way before we knew the draft class or where the Wizards would select, I wrote about them possibly looking at Carter-Williams. He had just led Syracuse to the Final Four with two wins coming at the Verizon Center. At the time, Washington figured to be picking in the 8-10 range. Philadelphia tabbed Carter-Williams 11th overall.

Here are the cliff notes of what I wrote:

Pros: "Triple-double waiting to happen." ... Third in the nation with 7.7 assists per game..."Sometimes a playmaker maintains possession while looking to pad their assists totals (Rajon Rondo has been accused of such things), but court vision is one of MCW's finer qualities. ...Defensively smothers smaller guards with his height and imposing wingspan, which would also allow him to defend wing guards and some small forwards. That length helped him average 2.8 steals and 4.9 rebounds per game last season. With the 6-foot-4 Wall and the still-growing 6-foot-4 Bradley Beal, the Wizards would have one of the taller backcourts in the league yet still possess tons of speed and quickness. ...One former NBA front office member told me it would not surprise him if in the future MCW wound up the top player in the draft."

Cons: Sub 30 percent 3-point shooter, which would have made a potential pairing with Wall troublesome. ..."Offensively he can disappear for entire games, as evidenced by the two points and two assists showing versus Michigan in the National semifinals plus several Big East games. With great court-vision comes great responsibility and MCW's decision-making is not always up to the challenge. The perimeter shooting isn't NBA ready, but there is evidence to suggest over time it will be."

Again, this angle came before the Wizards moved up in the lottery. Before Friday's game, Randy Wittman said the draft slot and the positional issue took the team's focus elsewhere during the pre-draft process.

"We didn't really with where we were at," Wittman said. "We didn't really focus on that spot. But a very talented kid. Obviously proved it at Syracuse. He's got good size, good anticipation. I think he has good knowledge of the game. When you have those combinations, that's pretty good."

It certainly was in Carter-Williams first game. Regardless, it's hard arguing that the Wizards erred by passing on a point guard even if currently the first guard off the bench slot remains a work in progress. As for the what a Porter vs. Carter-Williams debate looks like 81 games from now, we'll see.