Every Thursday, Joe Kaiser scours the league and offers his fantasy insight with the help of Insider's team of experts including Kevin Pelton, Bradford Doolittle, Amin Elhassan, Chad Ford, Tom Haberstroh and David Thorpe. Also included is Joe's injury update chart.
Wednesday proved to be quite the NBA debut for 76ers point guard Michael Carter-Williams.
Coming into the season, the lanky Syracuse product was viewed among many as a good long-term bet but who likely would struggle with shooting and physical play. But he led Philly to a shocking win over Miami while putting up a monster stat line in his first pro game -- 22 points, 12 assists, 9 steals and 7 boards. He also knocked down four 3-pointers, was 6-of-10 from the field and did an admirable job defending LeBron James. His nine steals set an NBA record for the most in a career debut.
The impressive performance bodes well for both the rookie's NBA future and fantasy stock. In his preseason fantasy rookie rankings, John Cregan put MCW at No. 3 (fifth in keeper ranks), highlighting his upside based on multi-category production and his role on the Sixers.
Elite athletic ability and size? Check. He has special physical attributes that few point guards in the league possess. Good feel for the game? Check. He can be a little wild and careless, but he does show special court vision.
"-- Chad Ford, ESPN.com senior writer
"In pre-draft posturing, Carter-Williams was something of a darling for the analytics set; it's little wonder he was drafted by the new brain trust in Philadelphia to replace Jrue Holiday," Cregan wrote. "His extra height [a defensive plus], solid handle and lack of competition at the point make Carter-Williams a dark horse candidate for Rookie of the Year.
"This is a [Damian] Lillard-type situation in terms of a custom-made rookie role (not in terms of offensive potential)," Cregan continued. "Carter-Williams is the kind of player owners sleep on due to the lack of points, but I think he's a great gamble in the final couple of rounds."
On Wednesday against the Heat, the rookie clearly proved his offensive game might be underrated.