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Rockets: Michael Carter-Williams impressed in preseason debut

By Michael Knight
BIRMINGHAM, AL - OCTOBER 2: Michael Carter-Williams #1 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies during a pre-season game on October 2, 2018 at Legacy Arena at The BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
BIRMINGHAM, AL - OCTOBER 2: Michael Carter-Williams #1 of the Houston Rockets handles the ball against the Memphis Grizzlies during a pre-season game on October 2, 2018 at Legacy Arena at The BJCC in Birmingham, Alabama. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2018 NBAE (Photo by Joe Murphy/NBAE via Getty Images)
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This offseason, the Houston Rockets picked up a backup point guard near the middle of free agency. It was an underwhelming signing at the time that might come back to be a diamond in the rough.

First off, yes, it was just one game. One preseason game, at that. But Michael Carter-Williams looked like a much better player for the Houston Rockets last night that can fit right into their style.

Coming into the season, MCW hasn’t accomplished a ton in his career after winning the Rookie of the Year in 2013. He’s never been a good shooter and has progressively become worse year after year.

New role

Now, he’s in a new situation in Houston. He has a pretty well-defined role for now: competing to back up the All-Star Chris Paul. However, he can do quite a bit more for the team as he showcased in last night’s preseason opener.

Carter-Williams dropped 19 points off the bench on an efficient 5/6 shooting. He got to the line a ton and did not take one single 3-pointer. That’s been one of his problems in recent years. He obviously isn’t a shooter, but he’s still thrown up 3s and hoped for the best. Last night, he was efficient and stayed away from the long ball.

He also moved the ball well, something that didn’t show up in his assist total (2) from the game. He constantly made the right play and only turned it over once in around 21 minutes of game time. MCW was also able to rebound well, showing the ability to get on the offensive glass a la Patrick Beverley.

Defensively, it’s hard to tell, of course, in a preseason game. Still, he was active on that end and fit the switching scheme perfectly. His 6’6 height and 6’7 wingspan makes him able to play three positions for the Rockets, which is perfect as a bench player.

He also ran in transition well, finishing off of this sick pass from CP3:

Chris Paul Point God pic.twitter.com/nyUkzfOK8U

— Rob Perez (@World_Wide_Wob) October 3, 2018

What to expect this year

It’s tough to tell you how much or how little MCW will play this season. The Rockets have stated that they will likely be resting Chris Paul more to keep him fresh for the postseason, so Carter-Williams is going to compete with Brandon Knight for the backup point guard position.

Like I previously stated, though, his style of play and defensive abilities make him able to play multiple positions off the bench for a Rockets team that doesn’t really care about giving up the height advantage. We might see MCW defending shooting guards and small forwards throughout games this season.

Observations from the first preseason game. Next

Once again, we must emphasize that it’s been a whole one game of the preseason. He could completely fall off and be horrible the rest of the year for the Rockets. Or, he could be a special role player for the team like he showed last night.

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