Just a few short years ago, Milwaukee‘s Michael Carter-Williams was coming off an unexpected Rookie of the Year campaign in Philly. Coming from Syracuse with questions regarding his ability to defend, score & consistently knock down shots, MCW quickly proved doubters wrong.
‘Sky’s the limit!’
…is what MCW probably thought heading into his sophomore year as a pro. But halfway through year 2, Philly dealt its starting PG to the Bucks for added flexibility.
Just like that, MCW needed to prove himself once again. This time, his task included earning the trust of new head coach Jason Kidd, one of the greatest minds to ever play the game.
MCW got back on track a bit, as the Bucks made an admirable run to the postseason before bowing out to Chicago in 6 games. But after playing in just 54 games a season ago, starting in just 37 of them, MCW enters 2016-17 with a lingering cloud over his future.
At 6’6, he does a decent job of creating opportunities for teammates (avg. over 5 assists/game) by using his size and athleticism. And it’s reciprocated when alongside both Giannis & Middleton.
MCW creates most of his own scoring opportunities by measure of controlling the rock so much. That said, Giannis & Middleton accounted for almost 20% of his total field goals.
All three are naturally gifted and can create – but are they maximizing each other’s talents? Not exactly.
Milwaukee plays at the sixth slowest pace in the league and finished 25th in points/game. Everyone in the lineup can run but, aside from Middleton, struggles scoring from outside. MCW is no exception despite shooting a career-high 27% (which is still terrible btw) from downtown on just 55 attempts.
So that’s it. MCW is at a crossroads because he can’t shoot, right? It’s a little deeper than that.
His role has shifted from lottery pick to Rookie of the Year to (potential) franchise PG to backup: a whirlwind for a guy who hasn’t reached his 25th birthday. But now, it’s time time to earn it all back. One step at a time:
Step #1: Discover a niche. MCW can’t shoot but that doesn’t mean he can’t do damage in other areas.
-Advice: Take open looks when they come but focus on feasting in the paint, where he shot 56% in the restricted area a year ago.
Step #2: Prove you belong. During Michigan’s Fab Five era, one freshman didn’t have the same instant success as his peers: Ray Jackson. Jackson, a top HS prospect in his own right, was the last of the five to make Steve Fisher’s starting lineup.
Instead of moping and kicking himself for being left out the beginning of the season, Jackson worked extremely hard to earn his keep & prove to himself (& teammates) that he belonged.
Sounds a bit campy but that’s what MCW has to do.
Scrap. Claw. Dirty work.
Earn your spot all over again by doing whatever it takes to win.
-Importance: The Bucks are a really young team, so MCW’s work ethic could hit home.
If MCW completes both steps, we’ll see the best possible version of the 2016-17 Milwaukee Bucks, it’s just that simple.
So Bucks fans, be patient if you can. This thing maybe could work.