We look at the effect height has on MCW’s break out season so far.
It’s well documented Michael Carter-Williams is having a phenomenal year on the court (the shoplifting story has been unwanted off of it). But from a hoops standpoint, even those who thought MCW should’ve gotten more run last year (*hand up*) couldn’t have predicted he would make this type of leap. He’s not only leading the nation in assists, he now has a streak of 5 straight double doubles. He just dropped 16 assists vs Monmouth, and 14 against Canisius. In fact the only game in the last 7 where he hasn’t netted double-digit dimes was against Arkansas. He had 9. Which is a damn shame. If he got one more he would’ve had a triple double.
Carter-Williams’ game goes beyond the assist column. He’s second in the nation in steals, had a four blocks against Monmouth and is averaging 12.3 points and 5.0 rebounds per game (he’s averaging 10.7 apg). In comparison, Dion Waiters averaged 12.6 ppg/2.3 rpg last year. He was the 4th pick in the draft and is starting for the Cavaliers.
Over the next few months, experts will break down MCW’s game before he’s lottery bound. Jay Bilas has already named him the country’s best point guard. He’s smart, athletic and has superior vision. You’ll hear words like “long” and “rangy” to describe him, specifically on the defensive end. But there’s one thing that shouldn’t be overlooked: Michael Carter-Williams is tall.
Height in basketball normally comes up when someone doesn’t have enough of it, or at the center position where the hunt for seven footers in the NBA means Hasheem Thabeet somehow still has a job. Height has it’s obvious advantages, but no one ever talks about tall point guards and the advantages they have.
One of the reasons there’s not as much height at the point is because they often get stripped by smaller players. It’s logistics. The farther the ball has to travel from palm to floor and back, the more time there is to steal it. Carter-Williams struggled at times with this last year and often found himself on the bench.
The exception to the rule was Magic Johnson. The closest thing in the NBA right now is LeBron James, who handles the ball on most possessions. But he’s obviously not a point.
If you’re tall growing up they put you in another position. But on top of his height, MCW has an insane wing span which is advantageous defensively. Think of all the 2-3 zone defenders as individual walls as high and wide as their wingspan. Even if Carter-Williams (and the rest of the size in the Syracuse zone) wasn’t allowed to move his feet and could only wave his arms, it would still be hard to get a shot off.
MCW’s height also allows him better looks over smaller defenders. Rajon Rondo has a similar advantage. While the Celtics point man isn’t extraordinarily tall, defenses play off because they don’t respect his jumper. That allows him to have unimpeded court vision and huge assist totals. Same concept with Carter-Williams, just a different application.
Some of the nation’s projected star players have fallen short of expectations. Nerlens Noel has been very good and shown flashes of defensive brilliance, but isn’t a surefire first overall pick like Anthony Davis. Shabazz Muhammad’s UCLA team is a disaster, and he’s coming off injury. Cody Zeller has been fantastic but he’s unlikely to be a superstar at the next level. If Carter-Williams continues on this torrid pace, don’t be surprised if a point-guard starved team took him in the top 5.
The NBA draft is about potential, and who has more potential than a 6’6” point guard with leadership skills, above average court vision, rebounds well and is coachable?
Can’t teach height.
Posted: Craig Hoffman