2022 Orlando Magic Player Outlook: Michael Carter-Williams is the perfect veteran

Apr 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Orlando Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) dribbles the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 14, 2021; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Orlando Magic guard Michael Carter-Williams (7) dribbles the ball against the Chicago Bulls during the first quarter at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Dinovo-USA TODAY Sports /

A young team needs its veterans. And it is hard to find a better fit than Michael Carter-Williams for the Orlando Magic.

The Magic did a good job of bringing in older players such as Robin Lopez and E’Twaun Moore to support their young players while not necessarily challenging for playing time. Retaining Carter-Williams through the offseason was the right decision on part of the Magic.

Even as Carter-Williams is recovering from his ankle injury, he can still provide the leadership that will guide the Magic’s young roster in the right direction.

Carter-Williams has always done his best to fit whatever role Orlando has asked of him. He is a scrappy defender who gives the team a bit of an edge — always willing to mix it up and get into a fight if need be. He is a solid defender who can spark the team in one burst.

Michael Carter-Williams’ play is all about energy. And that is what makes him the perfect veteran for the Orlando Magic’s young roster.

It was clear how much the Magic missed him last season when he returned to the court after a 21-game absence to score 21 points and dish out seven assists in a win over the Sacramento Kings.

Orlando had to ask a lot of Carter-Williams, often putting him in a role he was not suited for. Parts of last season need to be taken with a grain of salt. Carter-Williams is still always best in smaller doses coming off the bench, rather than relied on as a full-time starter.

Throughout the season and the injuries, Carter-Williams was asked to be the starting point guard and to create offense. Carter-Williams scored 8.8 points per game but on poor efficiency of 38.9-percent from the field and 24.6-percent from three.

Carter-Williams remains a player defenses leave open — ranking in the 94th percentile of the league in openness rating according to Basketball-Index. But he is still someone who can create.

Carter-Williams’ optimal role is to be off the bench and create havoc on both ends of the floor. To be energetic to play strong defense and create extra opportunities on the offensive end.

Offensively, that means Carter-Williams drives headlong to the basket. He averaged 13.9 adjusted drives to the rim per 75 possessions (adjusted to reflect his position) and although he was only moderately effective at scoring when he got there — 57.3-percent adjusted field goal percentage at the rim which puts him just above the median according to Basketball Index.

Carter-Williams’ value was never really on offense. It is on defense that he makes his mark.

He averaged 1.1 steals per 75 possessions (in the 84th percentile of the league last year) and he had a positive effect on the Magic’s ability to create turnovers when he was in the game. He contests shots well and is a good shot blocker for a guard, using his size to body up smaller players.

That is the role he filled in the 2019 season. That should again be his role this time around. Especially with a young roster.

Carter-Williams is the kind of player to throw into the fire to spark a team. It is impossible not to play hard when he is out there.

With the emphasis on energy emanating from the Magic’s practices, Carter-Williams would be a perfect guy to throw into the fire and keep the team on that level.

light. Related Story. Outlook: Wendell Carter's versatility is valuable

For now, as Carter-Williams returns from injury, he will have to help develop the young core from the sidelines. This would be helping the young guys through his leadership and intangibles.

Carter-Williams plays with energy and a sense of urgency every time down the floor, and it will be important to pass down that style of play as Orlando wants to play at a faster pace and create disruption and fast-break opportunities.

Once Carter-Williams returns, he will lead by example on how to carry oneself on and off the court.

Carter-Williams has the identity of a player who never takes plays off. That is what this young Magic team is aiming to be. He has the experience of what it takes to get to the playoffs and the focus it will take for this team to reach that goal.

The truth of the matter is Carter-Williams will be unlikely to see the court a whole lot this season. But his impact on this team will go beyond the court.

One of Orlando’s goals is going to be development, and Carter-Williams will be essential to help teach the young players how to be pro.

Orlando Magic fans need to embrace the fun. dark. Next

On the court, he will lead by example and teach the younger players what the right energy to play with is, and off the court, he will teach the younger guys what it is to be a pro. Regardless if he is hurt or whether he is playing or not, Carter-Williams will be an important veteran on this team.