Monday, November 4, 2013

Is Michael Carter-Williams having the best start by a point guard... ever?

Here's a brief recap of what Michael Carter-Williams has done through his first three NBA games:

Scored 62 points. Dished 27 assists. Nabbed 14 rebounds. Grabbed 13 steals. Helped beat both Miami and Chicago. Saved the city of Philadelphia from itself (temporarily at least). Rescued a kitten.

Not a bad start, especially for a rookie who didn't make a first-, second-, or third-team All-American squad in either of his years in college. So how historic is MCW's start? Is it maybe the best start by a point guard in NBA history?

Before we see what the numbers say, one critical caveat: full game logs were only available starting in the 1985-86 season, and that's when our data starts. So Oscar Robertson (or Magic) may have started his career in full Beast Mode, but we just don't have access to the full details.

Let's start with all players who've tallied at least 30 total points and 15 total assists in the first 3 games of their career. The first chart maps their assists per 36 mins vs. points per 36 mins. I've highlighted John Wall (in blue) and MCW (in red) because they're so close to each other on this chart. Just for giggles, I've also highlighted LeBron James in gold.

So the only player who beats MCW (and Wall) in both Pts/36 and Ast/36 through 3 games is Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, who played only 67 total minutes in his three games.

But of course, points and assists haven't been MCW's only contributions to date - far from it. Witness:

So how does MCW compare to the above players in other stats? Let's check out rebounding, steals, and protecting the ball. (Again, Carter-Williams in red, John Wall in blue, LeBron in gold.)

So comparatively speaking, Carter-Williams is strong in rebounding, third-best in assist:turnover ratio, and first in steals. Wow.

What does all this portend for Carter-Williams' future? I haven't a friggin' clue. He's certainly old for a rookie, especially one with only two years of college experience. (Krie Irving is five months younger than MCW.) On the other hand, his physical attributes are completely unlike other older rookies like Damian Lillard or Damon Stoudamire.

Regardless of what happens from here out, though, the start has been historically special.

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