2018-19 Orlando Magic Player Evaluations: Michael Carter-Williams

The Orlando Magic played at a quicker pace under Michael Carter-Williams. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Orlando Magic played at a quicker pace under Michael Carter-Williams. (Photo by Brian Babineau/NBAE via Getty Images) /
1 of 5
Michael Carter-Williams, Orlando Magic
ORLANDO, FL – MARCH 17: Michael Carter-Williams #7 of the Orlando Magic claps during the game against the Atlanta Hawks on March 17, 2019 at Amway Center in Orlando, Florida. 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 2019 NBAE (Photo by Fernando Medina/NBAE via Getty Images) /

The Orlando Magic needed point guard help to finish their playoff push. Michael Carter-Williams gave them that lift and a whole lot more to charge their run.

After the Houston Rockets traded Michael Carter-Williams to the Chicago Bulls, the Bulls unceremoniously cut him. It seemed the former rookie of the year’s career had wound its course. Teams had tried to use Michael Carter-Williams as a traditional point guard and found him struggling. He did not fit the Rockets’ style that is for sure.

And so in January, Carter-Williams returned to Los Angeles and started working out at a local gym there. He said he was hesitant to get on the court with the weekend warriors. But as the NBA season wore on, Carter-Williams had to get his work in on the court and be prepared for when the call would come.

There was no guarantee Carter-Williams would ever get his NBA shot again. At least not this season.

Fortune favored Carter-Williams in the end. Isaiah Briscoe emerged as a solid backup point guard for Orlando but tore his meniscus, leaving a big hole in the lineup. Jerian Grant was struggling to keep the team’s energy up with his pace and Orlando sought a new option.

John Hammond and Steve Clifford turned to an old friend in Michael Carter-Williams. Hammond acquired Carter-Williams from the Philadelphia 76ers while he was the general manager for the Milwaukee Bucks. And Clifford coached Carter-Williams with the Charlotte Hornets last year.

Clifford raved about Carter-Williams’ defense, lamenting injuries from sapping his abilities in that lone year in Charlotte. With the team in the midst of a playoff race, the team needed someone who could hit the ground running. A veteran who understood what Clifford and his coaching staff were looking for and could dive right in.

There were more than a few laughs that Orlando would give Carter-Williams another chance. And in this big spot. But the Magic ended up with the last laugh in all of this.

Carter-Williams proved himself to be an impactful player, changing the makeup of the team’s second unit with his pace, speed and driving ability. It did not matter that he was still a struggling shooter, he impacted the games in so many ways, making good on Clifford’s promise at the least that he was a strong defender.

It is probably going a step too far to say Carter-Williams “saved” the Magic’s season or was a big cause of the team’s ultimate playoff run. But it is undeniable the positive effect he had on the team. He did make the team better.

Along with Darrell Armstrong (and that was more for a long-term impact rather than immediate impact), Michael Carter-Williams is one of the best 10-day contract signings in Magic history. And he quickly became someone the Magic should consider bringing back for next season.