This is the beginning of a series of posts I will be doing about all of the players currently on the Sixers roster and whether or not they should keep them around for next season. I will look at many different variables such as stats from this past year, role on the team, salary, and worth to the team’s future. This should help decide who on the Sixers should stay and who should go this offseason.
The first player I will look at is the anchor of their team, their starting PG Michael Carter-Williams. He finished the season with better overall statistics than any other player on the team, averaging 16.7 PPG, 6.2 RPG, and 6.3 APG. He also averaged 1.9 SPG and greatly improved his shooting percentage from offseason activities such as Summer League and the preseason. This magnificent performance was enough to earn the Rookie of the Year award, in which he received the majority of the votes.
Despite being only 22 years old, he has the potential to be a long-time leader for this team as they continue their rebuilding and re-branding. Yet despite all of this, he is still the subject of trade rumors to this day. Arguments suggest that someone like Dante Exum would be a better player than MCW, but that it would be hard to have both of them in the back court at the same time. Thus, trade Carter-Williams to gain even more assets and just draft Exum.
There are two problems with this approach in my opinion. First, Carter-Williams has already proved himself as a very good player, but one that can still improve a ton. He’s already gone through the “rookie struggles” that almost every rookie has to deal with, therefore putting him a step above Exum in that respect. Second, Exum hasn’t even proved himself in general. He played in Australia, and while he’s clearly a top talent there, Australia is not exactly the basketball powerhouse of the world. He won’t be facing real competition until playing in the NBA, meaning there are more than a few question marks in what he can do.
While there are also a few question marks as to what Carter-Williams can do, in this case it’s a good thing because he’s already proved that he can do so many other things. Some people may say that Exum has more potential, but it’s very hard to measure potential. A lot of time it has to do with the actual team that a player ends up on. Obviously this year’s draft class has a lot more talent, but this past year’s class has shown that an entire year can pass without more than a few rookies making an actual impact (or even getting playing time).
Carter-Williams has already had a year to mesh with the organization, and cutting him off from it so soon would seem to be a step backwards in his career. While trading him would clearly be a business decision anyway, it seems too early to give up on a player that just won Rookie of the Year. Bringing in another new rookie to lead the team would just extend the length of time it will take for the Sixers to complete the rebuilding stage.
Carter-Williams may be a bit inconsistent, but that will hopefully straighten itself out as his career moves forward. He also has the ability to explode at any moment for a monster game. Everyone remembers his first game of his career when he looked like an all-star against the defending champion Heat and led the team that was supposed to go somewhere close to 0-82 to an actual win. In fact, they started out 3-0. 2 triple doubles and 16 double doubles prove that he can do a lot more than just shoot.
Unfortunately, it seems like he won’t be available for the Summer League because of a shoulder injury, which could put a small stop in his development (which he still needs a lot of). But, it could also slightly hinder his ability to be traded, which is the silver lining in this situation. If the Sixers plan on keeping him around, then I don’t think they’ll be too worried about him missing a little time though.
— Tom Moore (@tmoore76ers) June 5, 2014
In his case, salary is not really an object since he’s only in his second year of his rookie contract and will make just $2.3 million. In fact, that’s too little money if anything. The Sixers are in no situation to clear cap space because they’re closer to the salary floor than the luxury tax.
There may not have been very many bright spots last season for the Sixers, but MCW was certainly one of them. It just wouldn’t feel right getting rid of him so early. While trading him to draft Exum might seem enticing, it would likely be a step backwards and just asking for another year of rebuilding. Carter-Williams is confident that he will remain with the team and not be traded, and so am I. It’s great to have a lot of young players on the roster, but the Sixers are too young at this point with only one player over the age of 26 (Jason Richardson, who missed the entire 2013-2014 season).
Verdict: keep as starting PG