Sports Illustrated mock draft: Michael Carter-Williams to Pistons

Chris Mannix of Sports Illustrated:

With Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, the Pistons frontcourt is set. Detroit took Brandon Knight at No. 8 in 2011 but Carter-Williams, arguably the best pure playmaker in the draft, could be too good to pass up. The Shaun Livingston comparisons are easy to make — how many 6-foot-6 point guards are there to compare him to? — but two executives said they liked Livingston’s potential coming into the draft better. Still, Carter-Williams has superior point-guard instincts and if he can harness his size and improve his jump shot, he could develop quickly.

Mannix makes a very good point. Because we’ve seen so few tall point guards, Shaun Livingston is one of the few viable comparisons for Michael Carter-Williams, which means the comparison less likely to be accurate.

Still, I think Mannix, like most, overrates Carter Williams’ playmaking ability.

Carter-Williams played 40 games last year. Splitting those in half based on level of competition, as rated by KenPom, shows a pretty drastic difference in production.

  • Toughest competition: 4.9 assists and 3.8 turnovers per game
  • Easiest competition: 9.7 assists and 3.1 turnovers per game

Obviously, nearly every player pads his stats against weaker teams to a degree, but this seems particular jarring. Is Carter-Williams really a high-level playmaker, or did he just cement that reputation during the easier, early portion of Syracuse’s schedule? A more rigorous analysis could provide clues to that question, but on the face of it, I wouldn’t assume Carter-Williams projects as a good distributor in the NBA.

For comparison’s sake, here’s the same test applied to Trey Burke, who played against an overall tougher schedule:

  • Toughest competition: 6.7 assists and 2.6 turnovers per game
  • Easiest competition: 6.7 assists and 1.9 turnovers per game

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Tags: Michael Carter-Williams Shaun Livingston Trey Burke

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