The Charlotte Hornets signed Michael Carter-Williams to a one-year, $2.7 million deal this offseason, and should provide the Hornets the upgrade at backup point guard they sought after Ramon Sessions struggled in his second stint in Charlotte last season.
Carter-Williams is in his fourth year in the NBA out of Syracuse. The former first-round pick, averaged 6.6 points, 3.4 rebounds and 2.9 assists in 18.8 minutes per game last season. He struggled a bit offensively, shooting 36.6 percent from the field and 23.4 percent from behind the 3-point line.
But his real value came at the other end of the floor. Carter-Williams posted a 1.7 defensive box plus/minus, the best mark of his career. The stat measures the box score estimate of the defensive points per 100 possessions a player contributed above a league average player translated to an average team. So Carter-Williams was a better than average player on the defensive end of the floor.
With his 6’7” wingspan, Carter-Williams has the ability to bother opposing point guards. The wingspan also helps the guard reach out into passing lanes and disrupt the flow of the offense. With his tall frame, Carter-Williams also has the ability to guard some of the biggest point guards in the league, something that Kemba Walker won’t be able to do.
Sessions, 31, had a disappointing season as the Hornets backup point guard last season, averaging 6.2 points, 2.6 assists and 1.5 rebounds in 16.2 minutes per game. Like Carter-Williams, Sessions was terrible shooting the ball, making just 38 percent from the floor and 33.9 percent from beyond the arc.
But on the defensive end, he was even worse. Sessions posted a -2.2 score in defensive box plus/minus last season, the third worst mark of his career, which lead to him being one of the worst defensive point guards in the NBA last season.
Carter-Williams’ defensive makes a much better fit with the second unit. With multiple scorers coming off the bench, including the likes Malik Monk, Jeremy Lamb, and Frank Kaminsky, the Hornets don’t need a scoring backup point guard, they need someone that will play well on the defensive end of the floor. Sessions struggled on that end last season but Carter-Williams can give the Hornets a better defensive presence.
The Hornets traded for former elite big man Dwight Howard this offseason, who is known to be a great rim protector. Bringing in MCW, it seems the Hornets and Steve Clifford are going for more of a defensive bunch for the 2017-18 season.
The Hornets move to decline Sessions option and sign Carter-Williams should pay off. MCW provides not only more on the offensive end but an attitude on the defensive end that the Hornets did not have last season.