By Matt Jenkins
---- — Hamilton’s Michael Carter-Williams set the bar high the night he made his National Basketball Association debut back on October 30.
Then, he spent the rest of the season proving it wasn’t a fluke.
Carter-Williams, a 6-foot-6 point guard for the Philadelphia 76ers, was rewarded for his standout season, collecting the NBA Rookie of the Year Award during a press conference yesterday in Philadelphia.
There was little resistance standing between Carter-Williams and the award. The former Hamilton-Wenham Regional and St. Andrews (R.I.) star ran away with the vote, grabbing 104 of a possible 124 first-place votes and totaling 569 points. Orlando Magic guard Victor Oladipo was second with 364 points.
Carter-Williams achieved tremendous individual success this season, beginning with an opening night victory over the two-time defending champion Miami Heat when he scored 22 points, dished out 12 assists and came up with nine steals.
The former standout at Syracuse University led all rookies in scoring (16.7 points per game), rebounding (6.3) and assists (6.2), becoming just the third player to do so in joining Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-6).
Only two players in the league finished this season with averages of at least 16 points, six assists and six rebounds. Carter-Williams, of course, was one. The other was LeBron James, who produced 27.1 points, 6.3 assists and 6.9 rebounds per game.
James won the Rookie of the Year in 2003-04, and Carter-Williams strives to some day reach team success similar to James.
“This award is great. It’s greatly appreciated, but you know I’d definitely trade this award in for a second to be in the playoffs and watching what I’m seeing now,” Carter-Williams said at yesterday’s press conference. “Even coaches still tell me now, ‘Watch the playoffs. Look at how different the game is.’ I do see it. It’s a whole different season.
“This game is about winning and it’s not about individual awards. They’re great. I worked hard for it and it was appreciated, but I’d trade it in for a minute.”
Carter-Williams’ consistency in a dire situation was impressive. The Sixers finished the year 19-63, second worst in the league.
Carter-Williams also found himself dealing with the business side of basketball when the Sixers traded veterans Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen, and Spencer Hawes before the trade deadline. At that point, Carter-Williams became the face of the franchise and had to provide leadership to an extremely young team.
Philly suffered through a 26-game losing streak that tied a league record.
“Through all of these situations, I see the evolution in a point guard being born. He allowed our coaching staff to coach him,” Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown said at the press conference. “Look at the bloodlines of this award. You’re talking about Duncans; you’re talking about LeBron James, Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, one of our own, Allen Iverson. Then you’re seeing players that have gone on to have good careers. Think of the first group: NBA champions, gold medalists, MVPs, all-stars. The more time that I spend with Michael, the more you realize that he aspires for greatness.”
Carter-Williams’ relationship with Brown helped for a smooth transition into the NBA.
“He’s been unbelievable for me. I’m not a person that really trusts a lot of people. My circle is really close, especially when it comes to basketball,” Carter-Williams said. “I have a lot of trust in coach, just from going through this whole year and him really getting on my back about every little thing on the court and off the court. I really look up to him and appreciate what he does every single day.”
A four-time Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month this year, Carter-Williams joined Allen Iverson as the only two Sixers to ever receive the Rookie of the Year Award.
Carter-Williams ended up with a 3-1 record against his hometown Boston Celtics, including two wins in Beantown. He even stated at yesterday’s press conference that his favorite game was Philly’s second win in Boston last month. He scored 24 points and added six rebounds and six assists in the Sixers’ 111-102 win.
The Sixers have a young nucleus to build around in Carter-Williams and Everett’s Nerlens Noel, who sat out this season with a knee injury. Plus they have two lottery picks in next month’s NBA Draft, including one that should be in the top three.
Carter-Williams is excited and optimistic about the Sixers’ future.
“As we get more pieces the expectations will change a little,” Carter-Williams said. “I want to bring the team to the playoffs and experience the playoffs, but I know it’s a slow process. We’ll take each day at a time and slowly come together and just get better each and every day.
“We want to work hard to create a tradition like coach (Brown) has had in his history with San Antonio (as an assistant). I know everybody on my team and the staff will work hard toward that.”
Hamilton's Michael Carter-Williams, the 11th overall pick in last June's NBA Draft, was announced as the Rookie of the Year Award winner yesterday after a phenomenal season with the Philadelphia 76ers. The 6-foot-6 point guard led all rookies with 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game. Here are some of his highlight games from this season:
October 30, vs. Miami — On opening night, Carter-Williams scored 22 points and added 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds in Philly's shocking 114-110 victory. The nine steals set an NBA record in a debut game.
December 3, vs. Orlando — Going head-to-head with fellow rookie star Victor Oladipo, MCW guided the Sixers to a 126-125 double overtime win. Carter-Williams recorded his first career triple-double with 27 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. He shot 11 for 19 from the floor.
March 10, at New York — Playing at Madison Square Garden, Carter-Williams produced his second triple-double. He scored 23 points, pulled down 13 rebounds and dished out 10 assists in a 123-110 loss.
April 4, at Boston — MCW was a force in his second trip to Boston. He scored 24 points, corralled six rebounds and contributed six assists in front of many family members and friends. The Sixers won, 111-102, to boost MCW's professional record in Boston to 2-0.