In the middle of the great point-guard frenzy at the trade deadline was reigning Rookie of the Year Michael Carter-Williams. The 76ers traded Carter-Williams to Milwaukee in a three-team trade involving Phoenix. In return, Milwaukee shipped out pending restricted free agent Brandon Knight to the Suns.
A lot was made of this trade in both Milwaukee and Philadelphia, while Phoenix ditched two other point guards on the day and is currently in limbo. It has been speculated that Carter-Williams may not have been a fit for the 76ers, dating all the way back to draft night when his name was in the middle of trade talks.
Ultimately, the 76ers decided to send him to Jason Kidd, possible point-guard whisperer. Kidd made Brandon Knight a fringe All-Star and helped set him up for a serious pay day in the summer, which Milwaukee didn’t want to give him.
Now Kidd has Carter-Williams to mold into a perennial All-Star. The concern in Philly for MCW was that he was developing some bad habits on a team with little talent around him. Carter-Williams could be seen shooting ill-advised shots, because who else was going to?
The coach-player partnership stems far beyond Kidd’s (small sample size) ability to mold point guards into All-Stars. There are ample comparisons to make between Carter-Williams and Kidd through their first two years in The Association. In fact, Carter-Williams may be closer to a mold of Kidd than anyone else in the league. (Sorry Ricky Rubio, you move down on the list.)
Here are MCW’s per-game stats for his first two years (via Basketball-Reference.com):
Season Tm Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS 2013-14 PHI PG 70 70 34.5 6.1 15.1 .405 0.8 3.0 .264 5.3 12.1 .440 3.7 5.2 .703 1.4 4.8 6.2 6.3 1.9 0.6 3.5 3.0 16.7 2014-15 TOT PG 47 44 33.1 5.5 14.2 .388 0.7 2.8 .248 4.8 11.4 .422 2.8 4.3 .660 1.0 4.8 5.8 7.2 1.5 0.4 4.1 2.4 14.5
If this stat line looks familiar to Kidd, it should. Here are Kidd’s per-game stats through his first two years (via Basketball-Reference.com):
Season Tm Pos G GS MP FG FGA FG% 3P 3PA 3P% 2P 2PA 2P% FT FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL BLK TOV PF PTS 1994-95 DAL PG 79 79 33.8 4.2 10.8 .385 0.9 3.3 .272 3.3 7.6 .433 2.4 3.5 .698 1.9 3.5 5.4 7.7 1.9 0.3 3.2 1.8 11.7 1995-96 DAL PG 81 81 37.5 6.1 16.0 .381 1.6 4.9 .336 4.4 11.1 .401 2.8 4.1 .692 2.5 4.3 6.8 9.7 2.2 0.3 4.0 1.9 16.6
These stats are strikingly similar, giving the indication that Kidd can help Carter-Williams find his niche and carve a spot on the Bucks for years to come. An undeniable difference, however, is that Kidd appeared to find his shot from three-point land while Carter-Williams has regressed. There have been concerns about the youngsters long-term shooting ability, which are reasonable.
As expected, the biggest difference between the two comes when looking at their usage percentage. Carter-Williams had no real help while he was with the 76ers, and he was often forced to make impossible things happen on the court. Carter-Williams had a usage percentage of 25.7 and 26.8 respectively in his first two years, as he was forced to soak up a good chunk of possessions.
During Kidd’s first two years in the league, he posted a usage percentage of 19.0 and 24.3, respectively.
Carter-Williams has slightly changed up his game since arriving in Milwaukee compared to his style earlier in the season with Philadelphia. MCW is shooting more twos than he did in Philadelphia, and he’s shooting them at a higher percentage.
Although he’s shooting more two-pointers, his three-point shooting percentage has done a nose-dive after the trade. Some can be attributed to rust after returning from an injury, while also trying to blend in with his new team.
Perhaps the most important aspect of the trade is cost-controlled players for Milwaukee. There’s going to come a time to pay the young core of Jabari Parker, The Greek Freak and possibly MCW. (As well as Khris Middleton, who’s up for a big contract this summer.) Carter-Williams is under team control via team options through the 2016-2017 season, so he’ll be on a cheap contract for two more seasons after this one.
One thing is certain, if these guys reach their full potential in a Bucks uniform, it’s not going to matter what city the team plays in, they’re going to be a force to be reckoned with in the East.
Also, in relation to Milwaukee, I’m just going to leave this here (subtract the recently departed Larry Sanders):
— NBA On Def Pen (@NBAOnDefPen) November 30, 2014
Carter-Williams adds to that crazy length, and he may turn into the catalyst the Bucks need to be a force in the East for years to come. That’s if he reaches his potential, of course.