“Michael Carter-Williams is a good defender and has lots of potential, but his offense is just bad.”
This is one of those things I read all the time, and it always bothers me a little bit. Calling MCW’s offense bad is like calling Giannis Antetokounmpo’s offense bad–only half right. Because sometimes, the Greek Freak does look a bit lost on offense, as does Carter-Williams.
Other times, things like this tend to happen:
Michael Carter-Williams is kind of the same way. Sometimes he drives towards the hoop and sort of hurls the basketball in a vaguely towards the basket area and falls over and it makes me sad. Other times, things like this happen:
Carter-Williams has shown more than a few flashes of being very offensively talented in his time with the Bucks thus far. I’m not sure saying he needs to get better offensively is the right way to put it. It’s more that he needs to become more consistent offensively.
MCW has had entire games where he looks completely unbeatable. These two games from the 2015 regular season are great examples of times when MCW simply went off, and was good offensively, as evidenced both by the 30 point scoring outbursts and the over 59 percent field goal percentage.
Both of these games show how good MCW is, but in slightly different ways. The game against his former team, the Philadelphia 76ers, exemplifies how Carter-Williams can impact the game in all sorts of different ways due to his 6’6″ height as a point guard. 30 points, five assists, five rebounds, three steals and a block is a stat line that indicates that player was really making a difference all over the floor.
The game against the powerhouse Cleveland Cavaliers shows that MCW can also be more of a pure point guard as well. He only had two rebounds and one steal, but he dished eight assists in addition to also having 30 points in this contest.
Carter-Williams’ assisting dropped off when he made the move to Milwaukee, but expect those numbers to rise once he becomes more acclimated with the Bucks and gets a little more help offensively. With the return of Jabari Parker and Giannis continuing to develop, MCW will have plenty of weapons to set up next season.
I think his scoring will improve as well, however. If he can work with Jason Kidd and the rest of the Bucks coaching staff on becoming more of a consistent offensive weapon, it will really open up the whole offense. If Carter-Williams becomes a real threat to drive and score at any time, it will open all sorts of holes for his teammates.
Carter-Williams has already shown through his size and athleticism that he can sometimes simply overpower his man and drive to the rim for easy points. He hasn’t been able to consistently do that quite yet, but if MCW becomes a Westbrook-lite and can fly through defenses, it will help both he and the entire Bucks offense score points.
Giannis will get more free paths to the rim with defending big men being forced to move over and repel Carter-Williams. Khris Middleton will see more open looks at opposing wings try to slow down MCW, and Middleton’s best offense comes from catch-and-shoot three pointers.
And of course Jabari Parker, a skilled offensive player himself, will have more room to either attack the rim or let loose a midrange jumper with Carter-Williams drawing extra defenders to ensure he doesn’t walk all over the NBA’s point guards, most of whom are noticeably smaller than he is.
We saw in the Chicago Bulls series what a simple post-up can do to smaller point guards when executed by the larger Carter-Williams. Just becoming a better back to the basket player will do volumes for MCW offensively, not to mention if he can actually make his three-point shooting a real threat.
If Carter-Williams manages to shoot even 30 or 35 percent from deep next season it will force defending point guards to come out to the arc to stop him from raining threes down on their team. That both makes it easier for other players to get to the basket by unclogging the paint, and makes it easier for MCW to get around his man and get to the rim himself.
I’m not sure if Carter-Williams will ever become a sharpshooter, that may be a pipe dream, but even without adding that to his offensive repertoire Michael Carter-Williams could still be a viable option on offense if he just solidifies the things he’s already fairly good at. On a team with the Greek Freak and Jabari Parker, that may just be enough.
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