NEW YORK — The most impressive Syracuse product in the early stage of this NBA season isn’t Carmelo Anthony.
No, it’s Philadelphia rookie Michael Carter-Williams, who is averaging 20.7 points, 9.0 assists and 4.7 rebounds for the first-place Sixers.
“I always liked him,” Anthony said Sunday before the Knicks hosted Minnesota at MSG. “I’ve been telling people all along that whoever gets him was going to get a steal.
“The first couple games he’s proven that and he’s only going to get better in my eyes.”
Asked if Carter-Williams was now the best Syracuse player in the NBA, Anthony smiled and said, “He can have the torch, I don’t have no problem passing the torch.”
If the Sixers are tanking the season in order to get Andrew Wiggins or Julius Randle in the Draft — as one NBA executive told SNY.tv was the case — nobody has informed Carter-Williams, who left Syracuse after his sophomore season.
He’s had two double-doubles in three games and one near quadruple-double when he put up 22 points, 12 assists, nine steals and seven rebounds when the Sixers beat the two-time defending NBA champion Miami Heat on opening night.
Carter-Williams is already thinking about Rookie of the Year honors.
“I think I have a pretty good chance at it,” he said, according to Alex Kennedy of HoopsWorld. I’m just going to go out there, play my game and hope for the best.”
He added: “I think I can be as good as I want to be. I know what I need to do and I’m going to put in the work, so hopefully I can be great.”
As for the tanking plan, maybe it won’t actually happen.
“We understand what everybody has said and written about us,” first-year coach Brett Brown said after his team beat Chicago Saturday to move to 3-0. “Our guys have put in the day-to-day stuff, which has always been our message. I’m lucky I’ve found a group that enjoys each other’s company, and they enjoy playing together.”
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Adam Zagoria is a New York Times contributor and Basketball Insider who covers basketball at all levels. He is the author of two books and is an award-winning journalist whose articles have appeared in ESPN The Magazine, SLAM, Sheridan Hoops, Sports Illustrated, Basketball Times and in newspapers nationwide.
A veteran Ultimate Frisbee player, he has competed in numerous National and World Championships and, perhaps more importantly, his teams won the Westchester Summer League (WSL) championships in 2011 and 2013.
He lives in Manhattan with his wife and children.