Michael Carter-Williams a bright spot for struggling Sixers

Michael Carter-Williams
Michael Carter-Williams is the early NBA rookie of the year front-runner. Credit: Getty Images

Since Opening Night, Michael Carter-Williams has offered a nice glimpse into the future.

It sure looks bright.

Forget about the losses — the Sixers were projected to be among the bottom in the NBA this season anyway —because Carter-Williams has been a pleasant surprise.

Not to mention a potential Rookie of the Year candidate.

The 6-foot-6 Carter-Williams, the 76ers’ No. 11 overall pick in last year’s NBA Draft from Syracuse University, leads all rookies in points, rebounds, assists and steals per game. He’s on pace to become just the third player dating to the 1950-51 season to lead all rookies in points, rebounds and assists, joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76).

Pretty solid company, indeed.

Carter-Williams is on his way to his first NBA All-Star Weekend where he will participate in the Rising Stars Challenge and Skills Competition in New Orleans beginning Friday.

“I’m hoping to go down there and have fun and represent the city of Philadelphia in a good way,” Carter-Williams said. “Of course, I’m going to compete down there and enjoy myself.”

The individual accolades are exciting, but Carter-Williams is also focused on the big picture. He wants to win, even though the Sixers will be in better position for the NBA Lottery as the losses add up.

Losing isn’t in MCW’s DNA. He’s not built that way.

“I’m always focused on the games and helping us win ballgames,” Carter-Williams said. “It’s frustrating to lose and I’m trying to learn all I can each and every day here.”

Carter-Williams proved his mettle to the Sixers’ fan base on Opening Night in a stunning 114-110 victory over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat. He had 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in his first career regular season game.

There have been plenty of other stellar nights as well for Carter-Williams, who was named NBA Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in the combined months of October and November along with January.

“He’s been great and he’s so coachable,” Sixers coach Brett Brown said. “I think the ceiling is extremely high.”

How high?

“He has so much talent and his work ethic is incredible,” said Sixers guard Evan Turner. “He wants to win so badly and he works like crazy on the court and off the court. Playing every day is huge and will help him so much as his career moves on.”

Maybe the most telling statistic is that the Sixers are 1-11 without MCW in the lineup.

Even with such a young team, his value is immense.

“I just want to be out there learning, getting better, listening to the coaches,” Carter-Williams said. “I’m just trying to improve every day.”

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