Michael Carter-Williams is heading into only his second season in the NBA, but the reigning Rookie of the Year is already preparing to be looked to as a leader for the Sixers.
“Definitely,” Carter-Williams told The Intelligencer’s Tom Moore on Sunday at his basketball camp at Aspiring Champions in King of Prussia, when asked if he was ready to be a team leader in the wake of a potential Thaddeus Young trade.
“I think regardless of who is on the team, I have to be a leader out there, give direction to the new guys and really bring the team together.”
Spoken like a true veteran.
At the start of last season, Carter-Williams’ first, locker room leadership was split between veterans Spencer Hawes, Evan Turner, and Thaddeus Young, the longest-tenured Sixer. After trade deadline day saw both Hawes and Turner traded, Young became the default locker room leader, with Carter-Williams also becoming more comfortable in that position as the season stretched on.
Recent reports suggest that Young may be facing an imminent move to Minnesota, and if that occurs, the leadership torch will be passed to Carter-Williams, who would suddenly become the most experienced Sixer.
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Sure, Jason Richardson is still around, but he doesn’t factor in to the franchise’s future. It will be up to Carter-Williams to connect with the younger, less-experienced players, both as a leader off the court, and as the orchestrator of the offense on it.
For his part, Carter-Williams was not sure if Young would be around to start the season as a Sixer, but he made sure to credit the role that the multi-faceted forward played in his own development.
“Thad was very important. He taught me a lot.”
Dealing with trade talk is one area where Young could have given Carter-Williams, who heard his name mentioned in some draft day trade scenarios, some tips. After the initially ‘confusing’ move of drafting Elfiid Payton, another point guard, with the tenth pick in the draft, the organization re-affirmed its commitment to Carter-Williams by trading Payton two picks later.
“I think I would’ve got a little bit of a heads-up if [I was going to be traded] and I didn’t get anything. Me, coach and Sam [Hinkie] are always on the same page.”
Having the coach, GM, and impact player on the same page is usually a solid sign.
Faced with the potential task of starting the season without the guy who taught him so much as a rookie, Carter-Williams appears prepared.
“I can’t wait to get back into the swing of things,” he told Moore. “Last year was a long year. I’m really looking forward to this year and improving as a team.”
While the Sixers will again be out of the playoff picture, Carter-Williams’ development, both on and off the court, along with his chemistry with some of the newer guys, most notably Nerlens Noel, will be of central import to the Sixers this season.