Michael Carter-Williams might get picked anywhere in the lottery past the No. 5 spot. Going before that would be an "EJ Manuel in the first round" kind of surprise. The only point guard projected to go ahead of him is Michigan star Trey Burke.
Carter-Williams offers ideal size for the position and court vision that rivals anyone in this draft. But the scouting report shows this kid still needs to work on a few key areas of his game: decision-making, perimeter shooting and man-to-man defense.
All of those areas could see significant improvement with time and maturity, but Carter-Williams will need to show that he can adjust to the NBA game defensively, since he was in no way prepped to do that at Syracuse. Using length to their advantage, the Orange made it to the Final Four running the zone to near perfection.
That did nothing for him as an NBA prospect. If he's to be a future starter in this league, he's going to have to distinguish himself from his 'Cuse brethren who came into the league with defensive handicaps.
As for his decision-making and perimeter shooting, situational stats don't reflect on the sophomore very well. Carter-Williams is the least efficient scorer among the top 18 point guards in the draft and his 22 percent-overall turnover rate is the second worst among his peers, according to Synergy Sports Technology.
The decision-making critique isn't just because he coughs the ball up at an alarming clip; it's also the decision to shoot so many jumpers, knowing full well his jumper is broken. He's not Ray Allen going 0-10 but maintaining the poise to knock down the 11th attempt. Carter-Williams, statistically, is closer to Josh Smith shooting the team right out of a ball game.
NBA squads are going to hang their hats on the fact that Carter-Williams and his 6'5 frame would better suit them than, say Shane Larkin in the under-6 feet club. Carter-Williams has above average one-on-one breakdown ability, though he's a spotty finisher.
If he can make that jumper a bit more consistent, the questions about his offensive game will die down. If he's a turnover machine in the league, we'll never know what kind of player he is; he'll be sitting next to a tenured NBA veteran somewhere on the pine.
Defensively, it's a question mark until we see him get it done. We did see enough out of him to know that if he shatters the Orange mold, Michael Carter-Williams has a chance to be a key longtime role player that can help a team win.
Another point to note is that Carter-Williams seems especially motivated. Most of these cats have their own compelling back stories. Carter-Williams and his family lost their 2,500 square-foot home to a fire this past season, which took a lot of the kid's memories with it.
Fortunately, he's going to make enough dough to replace the home. This NBA experience is obviously a chance for him to build on new experiences.