Michael Carter-Williams was drafted in the first round by the Philadelphia 76ers with the 11th pick overall. While his high draft status will ensure him riches, his oncoming instant fame, after a stellar opening rookie game, may potentially have the Syracuse University alum on track to greatness. After last night, there are 10 NBA franchises that may be scratching their heads, perhaps on the verge of firing a few scouts as well. In fairness, picking a true baller is not an exact science. There are many tales of players who were evaluated as being the best thing since the first man put Cheez Wiz on a cheese steak. There are also those who were valued as much as a three-legged hunting dog, and are now in the Basketball Hall of Fame. It's far too early to imagine a bust in his likeness sitting in Springfield, MA as an all time great. But it's not too soon to chalk MCW down in the record books.
The 6'6" point guard was a one-man stat machine in his rookie debut before the home crowd in Philly versus LeBron James and the defending NBA champion Miami Heat. Many living legends of Sixers lore were on hand to pay their respects to the recently retired Allen Iverson — Moses Malone, Charles Barkley and Julius "Dr. J" Erving. But with a roster largely void of talent, and without number six overall pick C Nerlens Noel, they could have used the veteran help. No one east of the Delaware River or west of West Chester expected to witness anything other than the first of many routes to come during the season. There was even talk of the team "tanking" in order to get a shot at drafting phenom Andrew Wiggins out of the University of Kansas next June.
But Carter-Williams wasn't trying to hear any of that nonsense.
The first shot of the game was his first attempted bucket. And it was on like 80's porn from there. He would record a line of historical proportions with 22 points, 12 assists, 7 rebounds and 9 steals. MCW played the passing lanes like a phantom, seemingly appearing out of nowhere to pick pockets on numerous occasions. A knock on him coming out of college was his thin frame and lack of an outside shot. But he allayed all those fears, being able to finish after contact on multiple occasions and shoot the three point shot with the confidence of a grizzled veteran. He even displayed a steely coolness by hitting critical free throws late in the game.
Setting an NBA rookie record for steals with four of them coming in the first quarter, Carter-Williams was one steal away from becoming the second rookie in league history to record a triple-double in his debut. Out of death comes life. Iverson may be gone, but a new talented kid has definitely been born.