The Runner Sports

How Michael Carter-Williams Fits In With The Charlotte Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets signed Michael Carter-Williams to a one-year deal for $2.7 million Saturday. I know not quite as big as Paul George getting traded to the Thunder. None the less, Charlotte desperately needed a backup point guard.

Last year, Ramon Sessions was a disaster. Charlotte immediately declined his option. With limited cap space, Charlotte did not have many options available to them. A guy like Darren Collision would have been perfect, but for too much money. That left guys like Rajon Rondo, MCW, and Jose Calderon. Cheap veterans who could be got on one-year deals.

Michael Carter-Williams The Bad

MCW has been on three teams in four years; never a good sign. He was, however, rookie of the year in 2013-14. That is a good sign. That is what you get with MCW. There is a lot that concerns you, and there is some to like.

The main concern is three-point shooting. In a shooting league, MCW is about as bad as it gets from deep. He is a career 25% three-point shooter, his best season was 27%. Players go way under picks daring him to shoot and it hurts his offensive game severely.

For a player who relies on getting into the paint to score, you would hope he would at least be a good free throw shooter. Nope! A career 69% free throw shooter, and his best season was 78%. If he can be around 75% in Charlotte, that’s a win! At least he has shown the capability of being a decent free throw shooter, unlike his three-point shooting.

For a point guard who is 6’6 and has long arms, you would hope he would be good at finishing around the rim. Nope again! He is average. His turnover rate is also higher than you would like. Some of that though is the fact he has been on terrible offensive teams. Philadelphia, Milwaukee, and Chicago all were below average on that end.

Michael Carter-Williams The Good

I know it sounds like he has no positives on offense, but that’s not true, he does some things well. MCW is a bull in the post. He can abuse smaller guards down there and easily shoot over them. As a backup point guard, this will be valuable.

In pick and rolls, he has a nice feel. Williams is smart enough to know people will go under his picks. He is patient enough to wait for a re-screen and attack the paint, where he has a really nice floater. His passing is solid, not spectacular.

There are more positives on the defensive end than the other. MCW uses his massive size well, both on the ball and in switching situations. His steal and block rates have always been high. However, he can be prone to dumb fouls and can be inattentive at times in help defense. His length allows him to coral smaller guards and still contest. Steve Clifford will get the most out of him at this end.

Can He Play With Kemba?

Remember two years ago when Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker were finishing games together and crushing it? Aw, that was a glorious year. Last year they tried with Sessions, but he was well… Ramon Sessions. Charlotte desperately needs another point guard who can attack, create, and play alongside Kemba. We know Steve Clifford will definitely try to play them together. Likely moving Nicolas Batum to the three with Frank Kaminsky and Cody Zeller. This surrounds them with shooting and extra playmaking.

Offensively, expect MCW to play the point, with Kemba acting as an undersized shooting guard. MCW can’t play the two due to his awful shooting. If he does play off the ball, expect him to be used as a cutter, or as a post-up option. I think most of the time he will be the primary ball handler in two-guard lineups. That way he can run high pick and rolls with Zeller or Dwight Howard, and Kemba can spot up off of them. If the initial action is stopped, Kemba can be the secondary ball handler in a pinch.

Defensively, MCW can guard bigger guards, limiting that burden from Kemba. I think most of the time, though, MCW will be guarding twos, due to his size, with Kemba staying on ones. MCW will also let Charlotte switch more pick and rolls than they used to.

Is Charlotte Done In Free Agency?

Charlotte filled its number one need in backup point guard by signing MCW. Usually, Steve Clifford likes to keep three point guards. Brian Weber, who was brought up from the D-League last year, may win that role. Clifford could also add another cheap veteran. Rookie Malik Monk may also see some time there. Charlotte could use a little more wing depth and a third center. Like point guards, Clifford likes three centers.

The problem is, Charlotte barely has any money left. If they do sign someone, expect another cheap one-year deal on a veteran. Charlotte has done this before. Think Jeremy Lin two years ago and Roy Hibbert last year. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. However, it’s the only option Charlotte has and you have to take risks. If Charlotte does anything else in free agency it will be small. They likely already have the roster that will play on opening night.


Michael Carter-Williams was awful last year in Chicago. Buried on the bench on a team that needed good point guard play is not the best sign. He has clear weaknesses. It’s not all his fault. Hip and shoulder surgeries have limited him, and he has been in bad situations.

There are some things to like about him. No matter what, he will be an upgrade over Sessions, especially defensively. Don’t expect Jeremy Lin though, expect something in the middle. Steve Clifford will get the most out of Williams.

Even if it doesn’t work, it will be worth the risk. It was about the best Charlotte could do. A one-year deal for $2.7 million is a great deal. Hope for the best Charlotte fans, this may actually work out.