The Problem With Michael Carter-Williams’ Pre-Season So Far


At first glance, it seems that Michael Carter-Williams is having a pretty good pre-season. After all, the biggest concerns with MCW revolved around his ability to efficiently score, and right now he’s shooting 72.7 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from three-point territory.

More from Bucks News

But honestly, that was never my highest priority with Carter-Williams. It’s great that he’s finding more efficient ways of scoring the ball, but I’ve always been more concerned with his ability as a floor general for this team.

After all, considering he’s mainly sharing the floor with the likes of Khris Middleton, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker and Greg Monroe it’s not like Carter-Williams needs to shoulder much of the scoring load. He’s at best the fourth option in that bunch, and that’s only if you’re down on Giannis.

The more traditional parts of being a point guard–setting up teammates for good shot opportunities, skillfully and carefully dishing the rock and playing good defense–continue to elude Carter-Williams this pre-season.

Apr 13, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Milwaukee Bucks guard Michael Carter-Williams (5) dribbles against the Philadelphia 76ers at Wells Fargo Center. The Bucks won 107-97. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Now it’s important to note here that this is pre-season. It’s a lot different than regular season NBA basketball, and especially different considering how poorly the Bucks as an entire team have been thus far.

But MCW just hasn’t looked like much of a passer in Milwaukee’s first two pre-season games. In 35 combined minutes, Carter-Williams has just four assists, and three turnovers to go with them. That’s a bad ratio, and a low amount of assists for the minutes played.

And it’s not like there’s no assists to be had for the Bucks. The situation is obviously different considering he’s more likely to play against backups, but Jorge Gutierrez has ten assists in just 30 minutes.

It’s not that Michael Carter-Williams is incapable of being a good passer or being careful with the basketball–he just isn’t doing those things right now. Mostly because he’s rushing. Back in February, Jason Kidd wrote a piece for the Players’ Tribune detailing the most important basketball lesson he ever learned: how to slow down.

"A lot of times I could take on the whole team. But I wasn’t a shoot-first point guard, so I would end up having to throw the ball backwards to make plays. Or I would force a tough shot. Sometimes I would get fouled or make a great shot, but there were a lot of bad shots in there. When you’re a rookie, it’s hard to realize, “That’s a bad shot.”"

It’s almost like Kidd wrote the piece as an instructional for MCW. There are times that Carter-Williams is able to get into the paint and take on the whole opposing team. But it’s been more common for him to force a rough shot or end up turning the ball over because he rushed into a set defense.

Michael Carter-Williams is no longer a rookie, but he is still a young player and definitely isn’t really realizing how many bad shots he takes sometimes. His scoring has been efficient thus far, but until he starts to slow down and lead the offense instead of running through it he won’t be able to maintain that efficiency for an entire season.

Kidd’s Players’ Tribune piece is an open letter that came out three days before the Bucks acquired MCW, but it reads like it’s addressed directly to him. The ending is especially apt–hopefully Carter-Williams slowed down enough to read and take note of it.

"I know it doesn’t make sense yet, but try to take it down a gear. Soon you’ll be saying to yourself: Wow, the game just got a whole lot easier.Maybe someday, a few years from now, you’ll be where I am, in the coach’s seat telling a new generation of young guys the same thing."

Next: How Greg Monroe Fits With The Milwaukee Bucks

More from Behind the Buck Pass