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The Case For Michael Carter-Williams As Fringe All-Star

Aside from unquestioned NBA superstars such as LeBron James, Kevin Durant and Paul George, you can find a hole in almost any All-Star argument this season.

Should Kevin Love be starting over LaMarcus Aldridge?

Who deserves to take the spot likely to be vacated by Kobe Bryant?

Should a true big man be starting for the East instead of Kyrie Irving or Carmelo Anthony?

The weakest position in basketball this season has been point guard in the Eastern Conference. Derrick Rose is once again out for the season and Rajon Rondo has only played in a handful of games. Irving was voted in as a starter by fans. He has put up great numbers, 21.5 points, 6.2 assists and 3.0 rebounds, on a poor team, and would have been on the squad even if he hadn’t been named a starter.

League rules dictate that the reserves, chosen by coaches, must contain at least two guards. In addition to those mandatory spots, there are two wild card selections per conference.

Michael Carter-Williams should at the very least be considered for a reserve spot in a conference that really lacks a dominant lead guard.

Let’s assume that one of those guard spots will go to a true point guard. John Wall, Kyle Lowry and Jeff Teague are the main competition. 

“There are a couple of guys that have been paying their dues,” Evan Turner told RealGM. “You’ve got the John Walls and the Kemba Walkers. After they didn’t put LeBron [James] in as a rookie, I don’t know. Back in the day they were selling LeBron and Carmelo [Anthony] All-Star jerseys and they didn’t even make it. If we were winning, I believe [Carter-Williams] could have maybe [made the All-Star team], but we don’t have the best record. That makes it hard, although his numbers are great. He’s got All-Star numbers.”

The last true rookie to make an All-Star team was Yao Ming in 2003. Blake Griffin made the Western Conference squad and won the Rookie of the Year in 2011 after he missed the 2009-10 because of injury.

If you gravitate towards team success when selecting All-Stars, the four-man group of potential honored point guards shakes out as follows: Lowry, Teague, Wall and Carter-Williams. The first three are all in the thick of the playoff race, even if they are just hovering around .500. Carter-Williams gets docked serious points in many minds because the 76ers have won just 15 games.

Here is a statistical look at the quartet of point guards:

 

Points

Assists

Rebounds

Steals

Turnovers

FG%

Wall

19.9

8.4

4.4

1.9

3.6

.421

Lowry

16.4

7.5

4.3

1.6

2.2

.433

Teague

16.2

7.3

2.8

1.3

3.4

.415

MCW

17.4

6.7

5.6

2.4

3.4

.404

Looking strictly at numbers, Wall is the leading candidate. He’s averaging close to 20 points and leads his position in assists. However, Carter-Williams leads the position in rebounds and steals. Lowry takes the cake in assist/turnover ratio and shooting percentage.

“I haven’t really thought about it,” Carter-Williams said after the 76ers bested the Celtics on a buzzer-beater by Turner on Wednesday night. “I haven’t looked at other people’s numbers. I know if they are comparable that the guys that are older than me, they’ll probably give the spots to the older guys. If I do make it that would be a blessing and I’d be happy about it, but one day I hope to be a starter in those lineups.”

I’m not saying Carter-Williams should be selected by coaches, but simply that he is deserving of being at the top of the conversation. Aside from Philadelphia’s record, the only thing that has kept him from All-Star dialogue is that he’s a rookie.

The league has recognized his play -- assistant coaches vote on who plays in annual rookie-sophomore game at All-Star weekend -- but perhaps they don’t realize just how good he has been.

“Every coach thinks their player is special and I think his numbers confirm that he’s special,” 76ers coach Brett Brown said. “He’s been putting in a lot of work. He’s prideful in studying other point guards. It’s good that coaches around the league have selected him and it’s not entirely a popularity thing. I think it speaks a lot in regard to what other coaches think of him.”

Brown is very high on Carter-Williams, but rookies so rarely step right into the league and onto an All-Star team that the first-year coach hadn’t given his player’s candidacy much thought when questioned about it.

“What’s funny is I haven’t even really thought about it. I’m not really sure,” Brown replied. “I feel like his numbers, along with some of his results, that’s a pretty difficult position to go and grab as a rookie. I just know he’s special and I’m thrilled to coach him.”

When pressed about his point guard, Brown gushed about his ability to do what has been asked of him early in his NBA tenure.

“Coaches get greedy, they want more. I’m no different; I want more from a competitive standpoint, to staying off referees, to being more physical and navigating through a pick-and-roll league,” Brown said. 

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s a point guards league and he holds that flag for us. With that position, comes big responsibility. I feel that I’m demanding on him and I think he has succeeded what I expected when I first started coaching him.”

Carter-Williams is a long shot to represent the 76ers in New Orleans, which in reality is just fine. At 22, he’ll have plenty of opportunities to play in the showcase as long as he lives up to his potential.

“He’s 6-foot-6, one hundred eighty-something pounds, a shot like Derrick Rose or Russell Westbrook when those guys first came into the league. Go from there. He asks highly intelligent questions about other point guards or game situations,” Brown said when asked to project how good the rookie might be one day.

“He has a quiet competitiveness that is what I misjudged the most. I used to give him a kick all the time. ‘We need you, we need to get tougher, we need you to lead us.’ He’s started to do that and he’s starting to understand it. The big picture for him in terms of how much he can grow is -- can he embrace the physicality and toughness of the NBA? I say he can. I think his upside is extremely high.”

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