Sixth Pick Tournament Round Two: Otto Porter, Jr. vs. Michael Carter-Williams

Published: June 10, 2013

‘In the NO’ podcast partners battle it out in the second round of the Sixth Pick Tournament, as Georgetown small forward Otto Porter, Jr. and Syracuse point guard Michael Carter-Williams go head to head.

The Case for Otto Porter, Jr. (McNamara)

The first round was all about telling you just how productive Otto Porter was last season at Georgetown. No disrespect to Dennis Schroeder, but he didn’t stand a chance against a first team All-American. In this round, however, Otto Porter faces a formidable opponent, one that the New Orleans Pelicans should seriously consider with the sixth pick in this draft. This round features two guys who have the potential to significantly upgrade positions of need for the Pelicans, but only one provides the versatility that the Pelicans need to become the team they want to become moving forward, and that player is Otto Porter, Jr.

As Ryan said on last week’s podcast, the “idea of Michael Carter-Williams is very intriguing.” I can’t disagree with that. Carter-Williams has fantastic measurables and off the charts athletic numbers, but the trouble with Carter-Williams is that the numbers that really matter are the one’s found in a box score at the end of the game, and those numbers just aren’t very impressive. On the offensive end, you could point to the 7.3 assists per game, but that becomes a lot less impressive when you take into consideration a couple of things:

1. Carter Williams played over 35 minutes per game

That many minutes with the ball in his hands that much, and it is no surprise that he can put up 7 assists per game. Pace per 40 minutes adjusted, MCW’s numbers were solid, but they give no indication that he will be anything better than an average distributor in the NBA.

2. With all those assists came a ton of turnovers

3.4 per game to be exact. Michael Carter-Williams turned the ball over on 26% of his possessions this season according to Draft Express. How scary is that? 1 out of 4 times he attempts to create on a possession, he produces a turnover. Has anybody been watching the NBA Finals? Great teams don’t turn the ball over. If they do, they lose. Tony Parker, game 1 – yeah fantastic shot, but the most impressive thing he did that night was handle the ball all night without producing one turnover against a team that thrives on them.

3. Those numbers were inflated by the non-conference schedule

Wagner, Colgate, Easten Michigan, Monmouth, Canisius, Detroit Mercy, and Central Conneticut State. Michael Carter-Williams absolutely destroyed these teams. In fact, heading into Big East play, he was the top point guard on Chad Ford’s Big Board and things looked great for him. Carter-Williams put up 9.4 assists per game against that caliber of competition. Then, the Big East season started and MCW looked terrible in stretches. 1 assist and 4 turnovers against St. John’s. 2 assists and 5 turnovers against Georgetown. 1 assist and 4 turnovers against UConn.

The real world came to Michael Carter-William’s door and he wasn’t able to deal with it. The assists plummetted more than 30% as he averaged just 6.2 over his final 27 games. Conversely, Porter’s points and rebounds both increased once he hit conference play. One of these guys shrunk when the lights got brighter and the other one thrived.

So now that you have my feelings on MCW’s playmaking and turnover issues, let’s get to the even bigger red flag: his shooting. Look, I love traditional point guards who attempt to get their teammates involved early and often. But I love when point guards do that because they choose to, not because they are forced to. Michael Carter-Williams is labeled as a “pass-first point guard” because he simply can’t shoot. According to, we are looking at a guy who shoots 29% of his 2-point jumpers and 30% on his 3-point jumpers. Compare that to Otto Porter who shot 41% from two and 43% from three. Porter also generated more free throw attempts and shot much better from the line (78% to 69%).

Put all this together.

On one hand, you have a 21 year old point guard who is extremely turnover prone and can’t shoot. He has all the physical tools you would want in a lead guard, but all he did against good college competition with those great physical tools is struggle. If you put the ball in his hands on offense, he is going to turn the ball over a quarter of the time. Play him off the ball and teams will just sag off of him and kill your spacing because he can’t shoot. Seriously, what are you supposed to do with this guy on the offensive end?

On the other hand, you have an ultra productive small forward who just turned 20 a week ago that rarely turns the ball over and can shoot at a high rate from anywhere on the court. He can play on the ball or off the ball, you can put him in the pick and roll or in the post. He is fully capable of creating for himself or creating for others. Defensively he can guard two’s, three’s, and even some fours. He is smart, he is careful with the ball, he is versatile, he is productive, he is consistent.

He is the perfect pick for the Pelicans at #6.

The Case for Michael Carter-Williams (Schwan)

Ordinary vs extraordinary.  That is the decision you have to make here.  Don’t vote for Otto Porter because the mock drafts have him top three.  Vote for the guy who actually could matter for a championship team – and that guy is not likely to be Otto Porter.

The Pelicans have their franchise player, their Tim Duncan, LeBron, Durant.  Anthony Davis is the key to the future, but to turn that key, he needs a ball-handling partner.  Again, that guy will not be Otto Porter.  He may be an ancillary part of that – but he will not fit the role the Hornets need to fill more than any other – he will not be the engine on which an offense can run.  Porter will be the solid wing defender, the corner three specialist, the ball-reversal point-forward at times.  He will crash the boards, fill the gaps, be mortar in a wall.  But he likely won’t be a star.

Michael Carter-Williams can be.  If you look at the superstars of the NBA game, they are almost all players that have dominant athletic abilities with a few key elite skills.  Carter-Williams is faster, more agile and a better leaper than Porter.  Despite playing the point, MCW has a standing reach and wingspan a bare four inches shorter than Porter.  MCW has holes in his shooting game, but if you normalize for pace and minutes, he ranks 1st in steals and assists among Draft Express’ top 100 prospects.  Porter ranks at the top of zero categories.  In fact, he’s not even in the top 5 of any category.

So, essentially, you have the choice here between an high-ceiling extraordinary athlete already in possession of elite skills – and an ordinary athlete with no transcendent skills.

Are you really going to pick the Porter?  I’m going with the guy who can become Anthony Davis’ star running mate.

I’m voting Michael Carter-Williams.  You should too.

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