Philadelphia 76ers’ point guard Michael Carter-Williams has been selected as the National Basketball Association’s Rookie of the Year, making him just the third rookie since the 1950-51 season to lead the league in scoring (16.7 ppg), rebounds (6.2 rpg), assists (6.3 apg) and steals (1.8 spg). The news is one of the only positives to come out of a season in which Philadelphia finished with the league’s second worst record at 19-63, and tied for the all-time record of 26 consecutive losses.
Carter-Williams finished with 569 votes to Victor Oladipo’s 364, Trey Burke’s 96, and Mason Plumlee’s 58. He burst on the scene with a near triple double against the Miami Heat in his first game of the season, tallying 22 points, 12 assists, 9 steals and 7 rebounds. From there it was clear that Cater-Williams’ length and athleticism would propel him into becoming one of the NBA’s top first year talents. He recorded just two triple doubles on the season, but was always close and posted ten double-doubles. Carter-Williams, however, was also near the top of the NBA in some less than desirable categories, averaging the fifth most turnovers in the league at 3.5 per contest, while shooting 40.5 percent from the floor and 26.4 percent from beyond the arc.
Carter-Williams attended Hamilton-Wenham High School in Hamilton, Massachusetts, where he became an instant star, leading the team in scoring at 20.0 ppg as a 5-9 freshman. He then transferred to St. Andrews boarding school in Barrington, Rhode Island, averaging 25.4 points per game as a three-year starter. In his senior year, he began the all-court dominance he would come to be known for and averaged 23.2 points per game, 8.3 rebounds per game, and 5.5 assists per game.
Carter-Williams committed early to Syracuse University, promising to accept a scholarship over Providence, Virginia Tech, Notre Dame, Florida State, and Virginia among others, after his sophomore year in high school. Coming out of high school, he was ranked as a four-star recruit by Scout and Rivals and given an overall grade of 97 by ESPN. In his two seasons at Syracuse, Carter-Williams averaged 13.0 ppg, 8.2 apg, 5.6 rpg, and 3.1 spg. In the 2012-13 season, he finished third in the nation with 7.7 apg. In his freshman year, the Orange reached the Elite Eight of the NCAA Tournament, losing to second-seeded Ohio State 77-70. Syracuse would reach the Final Four the following year in his sophomore season and lose to eventual runner-up Michigan 61-56.
Carter-Williams was selected by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 11th overall pick of the 2013 NBA Draft. After his electrifying near triple-double performance against the Miami Heat in his NBA debut, he would follow with 26 points and 10 assists in a 107-104 win over the Chicago Bulls. Based on those two outings, he was subsequently named NBA Player of the Week in his first week of the season,.He was just the second rookie, alongside Shaquille O’Neal in 1992, to receive the honor. He recorded the first triple-double of his career several weeks later in a double overtime victory against the Orlando Magic with 27 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists. Carter-Williams is one of only three players in NBA history to average at least 16 points, 6 rebounds and 6 assists in a season, joining Oscar Robertson and Magic Johnson.
Commentary by Rick Sarlat