A month after being hired by the Sixers as General Manager and President of Basketball Operations Sam Hinkie proved he was all business. During the 2013 NBA Draft, last June, Hinkie traded all-star PG Jrue Holiday, the face of the 76ers. Holiday was traded to the New Orleans Pelicans in exchange for injured center Nerlens Noel, selected with the 6th overall pick and a protected 1st round pick for 2014. It was no doubt a risky move for the Sixers but one that would no doubt pay dividends for the future. 5 picks later, with the 11th pick, the Sixers replaced Holiday by selecting Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams.
MCW exploded onto the college landscape as a sophomore in 2013, the most talented player Syracuse basketball had seen since Carmelo Anthony. Leading the Ornage to their first final four in a decade.
At 6'6 and 184 pounds MCW was coveted by many teams for his great size, his solid one-on-one ability and great athleticism and lightning-quick speed in the open floor. Despite turnover struggles and an inefficient jump shot, his physical tools are what stood out to the Sixers and Hinkie, making him a prospect with a ton of upside. That upside is paying quick dividends for the 76ers as MCW is running away with Rookie of the Year honros.
With his size MCW has the ability to see over top of defenders and make any pass he wants. He has the quickness and ball-handling skills to create scoring opportunities for his teammates and for himself at will. With his ability to create turnovers and the size to grab rebounds MCW has the tools to be a dynamic player on the defensive side of the ball as well. He is a solid man to man defender and can quickly change the tempo of a game.
On October 30, 2013 MCW made his NBA debut with a defining performance. In a remarkable win over the defending champs, the Miama Heat, MCW's stat line read: 22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds and 9 steals. The most steals ever by a rookie in his debut. On November 4th Carter-WIlliams was named Eastern Conference Player of the Week, in his first week in the NBA. The first player to achieve this feat since Shaquille O'Neal. The future of MCW was born, even blowing away new coach Brett Brown.
As the 2014 NBA All-Star weekend wrapped last night it was MCW who represented the Sixers future as he took part in the Rising Stars Challenge Friday night in New Orleans. It is no doubt the first of many all-star appearances for MCW. The next time he will likely be representing the Eastern Conference as an all-star.
The Sixers point-guard leads all rookies in points per game (17.1), assists (6.4), rebounds (5.4), steals (2.1), free throws attempted (5.4) and minutes played (34.5).
Despite the Sixers poor record, personal problems and battling injury after injury MCW continues to shine. He was won Rookie of the Month honors twice, the only other Sixer to do so was Allen Iverson.
There Sixers are no doubtedly building for the future and MCW is the foundation. At only 22 and the extremely talented Nerlens Noel at 19, the 76ers have plenty to be hopeful for. With their own 1st round pick and the pick from the Pelicans, the Sixers are poised to build on that with one of the most highly touted draft classes in the past decade this summer.
As the Sixers honor one of the greatest players in franchise history on March 1st, MCW is taking the torch and running with it full speed.