Did the Sixers Mishandle MCW’s Injury?

Oklahoma City Thunder v Philadelphia 76ers

Tony “Wrecking Ball” Wroten has been handling starting point guard duties this preseason with Michael Carter-Williams recovering from a torn labrum, but it appears that he’ll continue to start once the regular season starts as well. Carter-Williams will not be ready for the 76ers’ season opener on October 29th on the road against the Pacers, per CSN Philly, as head coach Brett Brown said the following regarding his recovery:

I see a more fit player including his wind and cardio stuff. I think that he is going on the path that we anticipated. What does that translate into him playing physical, five-on-five basketball? I still think he is a few weeks away.

It was disappointing that MCW didn’t have a full offseason with Brown to work on improving his shooting and shot selection because of this surgery, which he underwent back in May. When Carter-Williams had that surgery, the Associated Press stated, “Team president and general manager Sam Hinkie says Carter-Williams had the surgery now to allow for maximum recovery time.”

If Carter-Williams is missing the beginning of the season and maybe even most of November, how did the timing of the surgery allow for the maximum amount of time to recover? His development as point guard is much more important this year than it was during the second half of the 2014 season. He now has Nerlens Noel and a few other players in place that could figure into the franchise’s long-term plans.

Why wouldn’t the Sixers shut him down earlier this past season so that he’d be ready to go later this month? In Keith Pompey’s philly.com chat this afternoon, a reader named “South Philly Steve” (note: that’s the name I use on philly.com chats) asked, “Why didn’t the Sixers’ medical staff identify MCW’s shoulder issue sooner and shut him down towards the end of last season?”

Pompey responded, “Because he wanted to keep playing. He was in the ROY battle.”

There’s the possibility that Carter-Williams hid this injury from the team or simply downplayed the severity of it, but if the Sixers knew that his torn labrum would require surgery, it seems like poor decision to allow him to finish the season. I love the fact that he won the Rookie of the Year Award, but it’s ultimately unimportant in the long run in terms of MCW’s development.

Shutting Carter-Williams down in March or whenever the injury first occurred would’ve been much more beneficial to his improvement as a player. Getting that surgery a month or two sooner would’ve allowed him to be healthier in training camp, a crucial time where he needs to be working with Brown and his staff, during the preseason and on Opening Night itself.

Just because Carter-Williams “wanted to keep playing” should not have been the deciding factor of whether he finished the season. Noel clearly wanted to play and felt well enough to do so towards the end of the season, but the team clearly prioritized his future health and didn’t allow him to do so.

Again, MCW could’ve simply tried his best to hide injury from the Sixers’ medical staff in his quest to become Rookie of the Year and quell the doubters of the Hinkie and the Sixers’ plan. A torn labrum would also appear to be a harder injury to detect than, say, Noel’s knee issues, but it is still something the team doctors should’ve worked harder to uncover.

If Carter-Williams is throwing up lobs to Noel and hitting Hollis Thompson in the corner for wide-open three-pointers as the Sixers squeak out some wins come December and January, this will be a forgotten issue. I would definitely not advocate having MCW rush back from his recovery since his future health is the most important thing, as it always should be in this stage of the franchise’s rebuild.

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