Syracuse Basketball: Is Michael Carter-Williams the Best PG in the Nation?

Barry LeonardAnalyst IIIJanuary 21, 2013

LOUISVILLE, KY - JANUARY 19: Michael Carter-Williams #1 of the Syracuse Orange reacts after hitting a three-point shot against the Louisville Cardinals during the game at KFC Yum! Center on January 19, 2013 in Louisville, Kentucky. Syracuse defeated Louisville 70-68. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Syracuse sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams has quickly made a name for himself. After averaging only 10 minutes per game last season, he is now talked about as one of the top point guards in the nation.

As commander of the Orange offense, Carter-Williams leads the nation with 9.3 assists and scores 12.1 points a game. He also takes advantage of his 6'6" frame from the point to chip in 4.9 rebounds per game.

Carter-Williams has shown the ability to fit the ball into tight windows and run the floor for the Orange. Someone with his scoring and passing skills is a dream to coaches at the next level. He is also an excellent defender, ranking fourth in the nation with 3.2 steals a game.

His skill was on display for the entire country in Syracuse's 70-68 victory over No. 1 Louisville on Saturday. Though he struggled for a large part of the game, committing eight turnovers, he came up big when needed at the end.

With the Orange down late, Carter-Williams took over the game by scoring 11 of 'Cuse's final 13 points and making a huge steal which prevented Louisville from taking a game-tying shot.

He followed that performance up on Monday by leading the Orange over No. 21 Cincinnati 57-55. He led Syracuse with 16 points and seven assists.

When discussing the best point guards in the nation, Carter-Williams is on a short list with the likes of Virginia Tech's Erick Green, Michigan's Trey Burke, Oklahoma State's Marcus Smart and  C.J. McCollum of Lehigh.

While McCollum is the third leading scorer in the nation at 23.9 points a game, he isn't much of a facilitator. His scoring ability makes him more of a shooting guard. Points guards are known more for setting up the offense, McCollum only averages 2.9 assists per game.

Green is the top scorer in the country, pouring in 24.6 per contest. While the production is great and should serve him well at the next level, he is not the playmaker that Carter-Williams is.

Burke, a sophomore, is having a fantastic season that puts him in the argument of best point guard. He is a solid scorer, averaging 18 points a game. What makes him so dangerous is his ability to both score and dish the rock.

He ranks ninth in the country with 7.2 assists per game.


Freshman Marcus Smart out of Oklahoma State has to be another favorite when discussing top point guards. Smart, is a physical presence at the point, weighing 224 pounds. Though there's room for improvement, he is averaging 13.3 points, 5.4 rebounds and 4.4 assists per game.

Like Carter-Williams, Smart is also a good defender, ranking ninth in the nation with 2.75 steals per game.

This same debate is already ongoing among those who project the NBA Draft. projects Smart as the first point guard off the board at the seventh spot. Carter-Williams is projected to be taken 11th.

ESPN draft analyst Chad Ford sees things a bit differently. On his most recent big board, he has they Syracuse guard projected eighth overall and the freshman from Oklahoma State ninth overall.

Though Carter-Williams stats, especially the points don't match up with some of the other's, the sophomore's skill and intangibles can't be denied.  His ability to drive and create with the basketball sets him apart. His length provides a great advantage that can create matchup problems for most defenses.

Carter-Williams has great command and control on the court. He is the guy every team would want to run their offense and the best point guard in the nation right now.