The Prospect Post: Young Guards on the Move

The Prospect Post: Young Guards on the Move

This article is part of our The Prospect Post series.

This article aims to provide an ongoing evaluation of the NBA's rookie class from a fantasy standpoint while also offering deep dives on college players with bright futures. Projecting young talent is very subjective, so an open dialogue is encouraged, both in the comments section and on Twitter: @RealJRAnderson

Michael Carter-Williams

The biggest name to get moved before the trade deadline among players with fewer than two years experience was Carter-Williams, who was sent to Milwaukee as the de facto Brandon Knight replacement. The Sixers got back the Lakers' top-five protected first-round pick from the Suns (acquired in the Steve Nash deal three years ago).

In This League's Nico Miatello compared Carter-Williams to his new coach, Jason Kidd, in a tweet to me Thursday afternoon:



Then Magic Johnson made the same comparison with more authority and with no qualifications later that evening:



This must be crazy, right? Kidd is one of the five best point guards of all time. Carter-Williams, on the other hand, is a bottom-half starting point guard whose team won 19 games last year. Here is how the two players compare statistically through their first 111 games:

Jason Kidd

This article aims to provide an ongoing evaluation of the NBA's rookie class from a fantasy standpoint while also offering deep dives on college players with bright futures. Projecting young talent is very subjective, so an open dialogue is encouraged, both in the comments section and on Twitter: @RealJRAnderson

Michael Carter-Williams

The biggest name to get moved before the trade deadline among players with fewer than two years experience was Carter-Williams, who was sent to Milwaukee as the de facto Brandon Knight replacement. The Sixers got back the Lakers' top-five protected first-round pick from the Suns (acquired in the Steve Nash deal three years ago).

In This League's Nico Miatello compared Carter-Williams to his new coach, Jason Kidd, in a tweet to me Thursday afternoon:



Then Magic Johnson made the same comparison with more authority and with no qualifications later that evening:



This must be crazy, right? Kidd is one of the five best point guards of all time. Carter-Williams, on the other hand, is a bottom-half starting point guard whose team won 19 games last year. Here is how the two players compare statistically through their first 111 games:

Jason Kidd

SeasonAgeGamesMPGFG%3P%FT%RBDASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
94-95217933.838.527.269.85.47.71.90.33.211.7
95-96223236.737.432.867.26.39.22.30.33.914.7

Michael Carter-Williams

SeasonAgeGamesMPGFG%3P%FT%RBDASTSTLBLKTOVPTS
13-14227034.540.526.470.36.26.31.90.63.516.7
14-15234133.93825.664.36.27.41.50.44.215

Obviously comparing seasons 20 years apart is a bit faulty, given the rule changes and the differences in the way the game is played. However, comparing anyone to a player on the modern day 76ers is faulty as well, because it is so rare for a team to be so aggressively bad. Kidd got to play with Jamal Mashburn and Jim Jackson, both of whom would have been better teammates than anyone Carter-Williams has gotten to play a full season with.

One of the reasons why the reaction to Magic's tweet was so dismissive is because we are currently in a golden era of point guards. The best point guards in the mid-1990s were John Stockton, Gary Payton, Tim Hardaway, Penny Hardaway, and Kidd. Guys like Kenny Anderson, Muggsy Bogues, Avery Johnson, Mark Jackson and Nick Van Exel do not compare very favorably to today's second-tier point guards. There might be 15 point guards in today's game that would be better than the sixth-best point guard when Kidd was playing.

And of course, there should be skepticism when comparing anyone to Kidd, especially when that player is not one of the 10 best point guards in the league. But it is not an outrageous comparison. It will be very interesting to watch how Carter-Williams performs on a real NBA team, where he can focus on running the point and making his teammates better, without being asked to shoulder a significant scoring load. If anyone can help him become one of the better point guards in the game, it should be Kidd, who had many of the same flaws Carter-Williams has now, and was able to eliminate them and become one of the most well-rounded players this game has ever seen.

Isaiah Canaan

Canaan is the obvious top target in fantasy leagues following the trade deadline (assuming Reggie Jackson is owned). He will serve as the Sixers' starting point guard for the rest of the season, but we need to look at his D-League numbers to see any evidence of typical point guard production. In four D-League games this season, he averaged 21 points, 8.5 assists, 0.8 steals and 3.8 three-pointers, while shooting just 36.8 percent from the field in 35.9 minutes per game. His per-36 minute averages in the NBA are not as positive: 14.8 points, three assists, 1.3 steals and 2.9 three-pointers, while shooting 38.5 percent from the field. There seems to be a pretty good case to be made that Canaan will shoot for a low percentage, while offering solid scoring and three-point production and middling steals. However, there is a big question mark next to his anticipated assists as the starting point guard. Michael Carter-Williams was averaging 7.4 assists per game in that role, but it seems more reasonable to expect Canaan to offer something in the four-to-six assists per game range. Despite everything Sixers general manager Sam Hinkie is saying, Canaan is a better fantasy option in the short term than in the long run, but he represents a player under team control for 2015-16, while K.J. McDaniels was set to become a free agent after the season.

Tyler Ennis

This is a nice situation for Ennis to enter, as he was the fourth point guard on the depth chart in Phoenix, but will only have to vie with Michael Carter-Williams and Jerryd Bayless for minutes at the point. Ennis is actually very comparable to Kendall Marshall, whom the Bucks waived earlier this season because he suffered a torn ACL. Marshall had some moments of fantasy relevance when he was seeing significant minutes with the Lakers due to his ability to rack up assists. Ennis could do the same if Carter-Williams were to suffer a serious injury down the stretch. He averaged 13.7 points and 8.7 assists per-36 minutes, while shooting 42.9 percent from the field and 33.3 percent from downtown in eight games with the Suns, so there are reasons to be optimistic if Ennis ever finds himself in a significant role.

K.J. McDaniels

This was a win-now acquisition by the Rockets, which seems strange when referring to a trade for a rookie, but given the uniqueness surrounding McDaniels' contract situation, he is the rare rookie rental. After negotiations fell apart when McDaniels asked for first-round money despite falling to the second round, he agreed to a one-year deal with Philadelphia for the minimum, so naturally general manager Sam Hinkie wanted to get something for him at the deadline. While McDaniels has a lot of work to do with his shot, he could be a stifling defender in the postseason. He is averaging 1.2 steals and 1.9 blocks per-36 minutes this season, which is absurd for a rookie wing. The Rockets already have Trevor Ariza and Corey Brewer on hand, so there is very little fantasy potential here just because significant minutes will be hard to come by, but McDaniels could be a difference maker in a supporting role in the postseason.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
James Anderson
James Anderson is RotoWire's Lead Prospect Analyst, Assistant Baseball Editor, and co-host of Farm Fridays on Sirius/XM radio and the RotoWire Prospect Podcast.
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