Despite its promise, Michael Carter-Williams is not focusing on the future
While the fan base can fast forward to the future, where their team is a perennial power, those on the Sixers roster responsible for building the team back up are about to embark on an 82-game season, and they can’t afford to look to the future.
Much of the talk surrounding the SIxers as of late focuses on the future, and when the team can climb back into contention, or the merits of their roster rebuild. Little of the conversation following the franchise has much to do with actual X-and-O's basketball, as it would with say the Spurs.
While the fan base can fast forward to the future, where their team is a perennial power, those on the Sixers roster responsible for building the team back up are about to embark on an 82-game season, and they can't afford to look to the future.
"All I can do is control what I can control," Michael Carter-Williams emphasized at Media Day last week. "I can't control when [Joel] Embiid is ready to play. I can't control when Dario [Saric] comes over here. My main focus has to be on the guys that are playing."
As the team's point guard, and de-facto leader in the absence of other established veterans, this is an excellent attitude for the reigning Rookie of the Year to employ. In order for the franchise to reach that point that fans are fast forwarding to and daydreaming about, the team needs to put in the work now. Improvement needs to happen now and each game, outcome aside, represents a chance for improvement for the team's young roster.
"I can't sit here and look too far in the future," Carter-Williams explained. "I know that it may seem that that's where the hope is, in the future, and a lot of people are focused on that, but we won't get to that future if we don't go through what we need to go through now. That's what I'm really focused on, taking it one day at a time, getting better and better, so when that future does come we're ready to play with the best teams in the league."
That's some pretty solid franchise foresight from a kid who could still be a senior at Syracuse.
Carter-Williams' goals for his second season aren't statistical, and while he acknowledged that individual accolades like All-Star game appearances are nice, his objectives remain improvement-oriented, both individually and on the team level.
"One of my personal goals is to be a leader on this team," he replied to the inevitable "what are your goals" question. "[I want] to make everybody better on this team."
Team leader is a position that the second-year Sixer has prepared for.
"Me being in the position that I am on this team is something I've always dreamed of as a kid, so I'm embracing it."
As leader of a struggling Sixers squad undergoing a complete roster rebuild, Carter-Williams knows that he will take his lumps, and he is fine with that, as long as there is improvement.
"I'll take the falls, it's fine with me. We went through a lot last year, it doesn't matter to me. As long as we're getting better each and every day and going out there and playing hard every single possession, whether we're up 30, down 30."
So while brighter days likely lay ahead for the Sixers, forgive Carter-Williams for not looking too far into the future, he has work to do.