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Oklahoma City Thunder: Michael Carter-Williams could be in play if OKC passes on a big man in NBA Draft

Thunder general manager Sam Presti has a history of surprises on draft night. And so while most everyone assumes the Thunder will be drafting a big man, it's not out of the realm of possibilities that OKC actually will go small.
by Darnell Mayberry Published: June 15, 2013
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While his height allows him to see over defenses and read and react to coverages with ease, it also equips Carter-Williams with the tools to someday be successful as a post-up player against certain matchups. The idea is he'll be too big for small guards on the inside while being too quick for big guards on the perimeter.

Carter-Williams doesn't score much. He averaged just 11.9 points in 35.2 minutes per game this season. And his shot needs some work. He shot just 39.3 percent from the field and connected on only 29.2 percent of his 3-point attempts.

But none of that would be an issue for the Thunder. Oklahoma City wouldn't nab Carter-Williams with scoring in mind. Instead, the 21-year-old floor general could fill a need as the third point guard for now and, in time, possibly develop into the primary backup to Westbrook.

Remember, we've seen this before.

Back in 2011, when Presti surprised by selecting Jackson, most wondered why the Thunder would bring in another point guard. Westbrook and Eric Maynor at the time were one of the best starter-sub tandems in the league. But Maynor got injured, and the Thunder would have been hard-pressed to keep him even if he didn't.

Jackson is now entering that same situation. He's eligible for a contract extension next summer, and if his rapid development continues he could price himself out of the Thunder's budget.

That's why it wouldn't be a shock to hear Carter-Williams' name called with the 12th pick in the 2013 NBA Draft.

If he's still around.

by Darnell Mayberry
OKC Thunder Senior Reporter
Darnell Mayberry grew up in Langston, Okla. and is now in his third stint in the Sooner state. After a year and a half at Bishop McGuinness High, he finished his prep years in Falls Church, Va., before graduating from Norfolk State University in...
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Editor's note: As part of the James Harden trade with Houston last October, the Thunder obtained the No. 12 overall selection in the June 27 NBA Draft via Toronto. We look at 12 potential candidates the Thunder might consider taking with that No. 12 pick.

Today: Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams

MICHAEL CARTER-WILLIAMS

Height: 6-6

Weight: 184

Birth date: October 12, 1991

Hometown: Hamilton, Mass.

School: Syracuse

Class: Sophomore

2012-13 stats: 11.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 7.3 apg, 0.5 bpg, 2.8 spg, .393 FG, .694 FT

Strengths: Tremendous size for his position. Makes plays for others. Breaks down his man and gets into the teeth of the defense. Active defensively, especially in the passing lanes.

Weaknesses: Not a great shooter. Lacks explosiveness. Has trouble finishing at the rim. Doesn't score much. Prone to turnovers and to poor decisions.

How he could help the Thunder: Patience would be required, but in time Carter-Williams could be the primary backup to Russell Westbrook and a perfect match as a running mate to Jeremy Lamb.

Projections: No. 8 (si.com, espn.com); No. 13 (hoopsworld.com, draftexpress.com, hoopshype.com, nbadraft.net).

Quotable: “It's hard when Michael Carter-Williams forces rotation, because he's so good off the bounce. You can either give him a layup, or you better figure out how you're going to rotate to try to stop the penetration.” — Marquette coach Buzz Williams.

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