Michael Carter-Williams will soon be thrown to the wolves when he faces the two-time-defending world champion Heat on opening night Wednesday.
Carter-Williams is not only a rookie, but he also happens to play the coveted point guard position in which his lanky frame has a tendency to be pushed aside.
“He is doing a really good job,” Brett Brown said of Carter-Williams. “When you look at him, it is not like he is going to go out and knock somebody’s head off at the start. There is a cruisy side of him -- an aloof side of him that at times gets to me. It is not how I think or what I believe in at times, but that is how somebody built him.
“There is a competitive side of him though when the lights come on that has surprised me. I think he is starting to figure me out and me him out a little bit more each day.”
Brown by nature is fiery. Carter-Williams by nature is laid back. If ever there was a necessity for opposites to attract, this would be the case.
Known for turning the ball over too frequently last year in college, Carter-Williams has made a concerted effort to be a caretaker of the ball as a pro, and his coach has taken notice.
“I expected what all rookie point guards experience. It is the hardest position to play in the NBA,” Brown said. “Here is the ball: run a team. He’s 20-something years old, go tell those 27, 25, 24-year-olds what to do and good luck to you.”
Brown remembers a 19-year-old Tony Parker joining the Spurs as a rookie point guard way back when and how he struggled despite having a far more talented roster around him then that of Carter-Williams.
And look what Parker has become: a four-time world champion.
Carter-Williams knows tough challenges await but he is ready to take them on this season.
“When I am on the court, I am real upbeat talking to my teammates,” Carter-Williams said. “Off the court, I am pretty low-key. [Brown] does bring a lot of energy and that’s nice because if I am a little lackadaisical, his energy picks me up.”
MCW knows he is at a deficit in terms of experience but his size, despite being a rookie, is a huge advantage.
“A lot of other point guards are shorter then me but stronger and low to the ground,” Carter-Williams said. “I definitely have to use my length out there.”