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A Philadelphia 76ers blog, hosted by Christopher A. Vito

Monday, May 5, 2014

Sixers' Michael Carter-Williams named NBA Rookie of the Year

(Times staff /ERIC HARTLINE)

The offseason was on the doorstep when Michael Carter-Williams, while seated at his Wells Fargo Center locker, was questioned about postseason award voting.

Namely, the 76ers’ point guard was asked whether he remembered a tweet from opening night, when Magic Johnson needed nothing more than Carter-Williams’ near quadruple-double to declare him the league’s Rookie of the Year.

“Of course,” Carter-Williams said. “That is something I will never forget. It was a great compliment and it was greatly appreciated.”

Johnson certainly took notice. So did media members around the country.

Monday, Carter-Williams was named NBA Rookie of the Year. He became only the second player in franchise history to win the honor, joining Allen Iverson, who took home the hardware in 1996. 

A 6-6 guard out of Syracuse, Carter-Williams led all rookies in scoring, assists, rebounds and steals and was often a bright spot in a bleak season.

It was believed the Sixers’ 19-win campaign, amid the franchise’s rebuilding effort, would hinder Carter-Williams’ case to win the award. Instead, he edged out Orlando’s Victor Oladipo, 569 points to 364, to win the award and garnered 104 of a possible 124 first-place votes. Trey Burke of Utah finished third in the voting.

Including Carter-Williams, the last 11 Rookie of the Year winners have come from teams with losing records.

The 11th overall pick in last summer’s draft, Carter-Williams is the lowest-picked Rookie of the Year recipient since 1987-88, when the New York Knicks’ Mark Jackson – who went 18th overall in the previous year’s draft – took home the hardware.

Carter-Williams began turning heads in the first game of his first pro season. He posted 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds Oct. 30, as the Sixers took down the defending champion Miami Heat, 114-110.

Afterward, Johnson took to social media to gush about Carter-Williams’ performance.

“I just got done watching the guy I think will be the Rookie of the Year, Michael Carter-Williams of the 76ers,” the NBA legend tweeted. 

Seven months later, Johnson’s prediction panned out.

Statistical support was on Carter-Williams’ side. He joined Oscar Robertson (1960-61) and Alvan Adams (1975-76) as the only players to pace all rookies in scoring, rebounds and assists. On that note, these per-game averages by Carter-Williams led all first-year players: 16.7 points, 6.3 assists, 6.2 rebounds, 1.86 steals and 34.5 minutes.

What’s more, his 4.8 defensive rebounds per game were the most ever by a rookie guard, eclipsing the 4.4 defensive boards by Chester native Tyreke Evans during his 2009-10 Rookie of the Year campaign with Sacramento.

Carter-Williams was named Eastern Conference Rookie of the Month in four of the six months of the regular season.

There’s a decent chance the Sixers could become the first team since the Buffalo Braves (Bob McAdoo in 1972-73, and Ernie DiGregorio in 1973-74) to boast back-to-back Rookies of the Year. Center Nerlens Noel, who missed all of last season while rehabbing a knee injury, is eligible, as will be the slew of players the Sixers take in June’s draft. They hold seven picks, including two in the first round.

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