|NBA scouts think Michael Carter-Williams' greatest strength is the length of his tongue. (Rob Carr/Getty Images)|
Position: Point Guard
Current DraftExpress Projection: No. 12 first round, No. 12 overall to Oklahoma City Thunder
Synopsis: Michael Carter-Williams is not Michigan's Trey Burke or Lousiville's Peyton Siva. Those diminutive point guards led their respective teams to the national championship as a follow-through on season-long hype around both programs. Carter-Williams, the lengthy Syracuse pointman, inherited his own history-rich squad as a sophomore after playing just 10 minutes per game as a freshman. Depleted by the holes left by the departures of Fab Melo and the back court duo of Scoop Jardine and Dion Waiters, Carter-Williams was tasked with running a team in what usually looks like college basketball's best conference during his program's final year before defecting.
How did it end? Carter-Williams led his team to a fifth place conference finish after a three-way tie atop the Big East before spearheading the Orange's run to the Final Four. C.J. Fair took the scoring reins and led Syracuse in rebounds, but Carter-Williams held his own, executing the offense to the tune of 7.3 assists per game, which landed him fifth amongst all players in the NCAA last season. His 2.15 assist-to-turnover ratio (7.3 apg to 2.4 TO per game) is not great, but is passable for a second-year point guard who experienced limited playing time as a freshman.
What truly separates Carter-Williams from the rest of this year's point guard crop in the draft is his size: he stands nearly 6'6" and weighs 184 pounds. He has the size but lacks the shooting stroke to play shooting guard, but his court vision and wingspan (measured over 6'7" at the pre-draft combine) will make him a challenge for the majority of point guards currently playing in the NBA, let alone smaller opponents. Carter-Williams' battery of ball-handling skills allow him to create his own shots and, with an improvement in his field goal percentage (43.8 from two, 29.2 from three), he could be a full offensive threat on the professional level. The polish Carter-Williams needs to add in that aspect is balanced by his defensive abilities. Though playing in Syracuse's zone defense during college, Carter-Williams proved to have quick feet to jump passing lanes in addition to exercising the patience and deftness needed to nab 111 steals through 40 games, good for fourth in the NCAA.
There's development to be done, which could cause Carter-Williams to fall in the draft in what is already perceived as a weak class. But if a franchise is interested in a project with sizable upside - or the team is confident that the 21-year-old can develop enough to be game-ready by the fall - Carter-Williams is worth a look.
Quote to Note: "That would be nice, but I kind of want to get away and play somewhere else" - Carter-Williams, a native of Hamilton, Mass., on possibly getting drafted by the Boston Celtics. Via the Boston-Herald.
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