SALT LAKE CITY -- On Friday night, rookies Michael Carter-Williams and Trey Burke will be teammates in the Rising Stars Challenge as part of this year’s NBA All-Star Weekend.
Wednesday night, however, the two young men were adversaries when the Sixers played the Jazz in their final game before the break.
The matchup made for good pregame chatter as the strengths and weaknesses of both rookie point guards were analyzed.
“You look at someone who is very comfortable shooting the ball,” Brett Brown said of Burke before the game. “It makes the game easier. Their history is well-documented but I see him being a legitimate really good player for a while.”
The “history” that Brown spoke of was the meeting between Carter-Williams and Burke in last year’s NCAA Final Four. Neither guard had his best showing.
Still, out of their respective final college seasons came the debate: Who is the better point guard?
Burke was selected ninth overall in last spring’s NBA draft. Carter-Williams went two picks later.
Burke missed the first the first three weeks of the season following surgery to repair a fracture in his index finger. Since returning, the University of Michigan product is averaging 12.5 points, 5.5 assists and 3.1 rebounds.
Carter-Williams has appeared in 42 games. He is averaging 17.1 points, 6.5 assists and 5.4 rebounds.
Carter-Williams had been slumping of late and three veteran point guards had taken it to him his last three games.
Wednesday night he had a chance to have the upper-hand against a player with his level of experience.
“I think he is going to look at [Burke] a little bit differently then you would look at a Chris Paul, and rightfully so, “ Brown speculated about MCW before the game. “I am assuming it is going to produce a more confident type of performance instead of maybe one of tremendous respect when you are playing against Chris [Paul] and Steve [Nash]. I look forward to seeing it play out. It’s a great rookie point guard matchup.”
Carter-Williams acknowledged pregame that Burke was a great player but that he was just concentrating on trying to get a win.
As it turned out, Burke got the win but MCW won the mano a mano battle.
“I thought Michael played with great poise,” Brown said after his team’s 105-100 loss. “He could have handled this particular matchup in different ways but I thought he grew tonight.”
MCW filled out the stat sheet with 19 points, eight assists, five rebounds, three blocks and two steals.
Burke was limited to seven points and two assists.
“He played with a level of sophistication and pace and poise,” Brown said of Carter-Williams. “He ran things. He started understanding how to get his shot and he did it in a real calm flow to the game. I thought it was one of his best games.”