Michael Carter-Williams may have cemented the Rookie of the Year award on opening night.
MCW opened his NBA career against the Miami Heat and nearly compiled a quadruple-double against the two-time defending champions. Magic Johnson even tweeted that Carter-Williams was going to be a special player.
Throughout the 19-win season, Carter-Williams had his share of ups and downs.
For the 11th overall pick, it proved to be the right choice for the rebuilding 76ers.
“By opening night, it was clear to us that Michael belonged,” Sixers GM San Hinkie said in a statement. “This award marks a lifetime of hard work, from Hamilton to St. Andrew's, and Syracuse to the Sixers. “We congratulate him on this unique achievement and look forward to helping him put in the work necessary to garner even greater success in the future.”
Carter-Williams was named the NBA Rookie of the Year, joining Allen Iverson (1996-97) as the only 76ers to win the award in franchise history. Carter-Williams earned 104 out of a possible 124 first place votes.
Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo was awarded 16 first place votes. Brooklyn’s Mason Plumlee (two), Utah’s Trey Burke (one) and New York’s Tim Hardaway Jr. (one) were the only other players to garner at least one first place vote.
MCW was the runaway winner and it was the right call. Here are three reasons why:
Right from the start
Carter-Williams was immediately plugged into the starting lineup and he contributed right away. That’s not easy for a young point guard, especially when the talent was not that great around him. It was better before the Sixers traded Spencer Hawes and Evan Turner. Carter-Williams had the ball in his hands quite a bit and he put up solid numbers across the board. He was far from perfect but who could be on this team? MCW showed a mental toughness night in and night out because enduring a league-tying 26 straight losses couldn’t have been easy. MCW wanted the basketball in his hands and that says something about his makeup.
Most improved player
MCW improved in virtually every aspect of his game from opening night to game 82. His defense was especially improved by the end of the season. MCW stayed open to coaching and constructive criticism and it was evident on the court. While there are things he will need to get better at – like 3-point shooting – improvement is key. Players who get better are open to coaching. That’s a huge ingredient to making strides toward stardom.
Carter-Williams made the most of a difficult situation. This is a player who’s used to winning – he guided Syracuse to the Final Four as a sophomore. Winning less games as a rookie with the Sixers had to be gut-wrenching. He never let it bother him. Quite the contrary. MCW kept coming to work and improving along with his teammates. If he can survive this type of season, he’ll be so much tougher when the Sixers start to get better.