Wednesday February 25th, 2015

The Bucks made a big splash at the 2015 NBA trade deadline by shipping away All-Star snub Brandon Knight in exchange for a package including sophomore point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

MORE: Give and Go: Where the dust settles after trade deadline fallout

It may seem like an on odd move on the surface, provided Milwaukee had put together a winning record in the Eastern Conference despite countless projections to the contrary with Knight at the helm. But the Bucks also added center Miles Plumlee (who can fill the void left by Larry Sanders’ buyout situation) and Tyler Ennis (another promising young point guard).

Now head coach Jason Kidd will move forward with the youth and upside of MCW running his team.

Two decades ago, it was Kidd who broke into the league as a lottery pick with the Mavericks. The former No. 2 overall selection put together statistics quite similar to those in Carter-Williams’ rookie year, but the second year leap hasn’t been there for MCW as it was for J-Kidd.

Offensively speaking, the former 76ers point guard was superior to Kidd as a rookie. He averaged 16.7 points per game, compared to Kidd’s 11.7, mostly due to a matter of circumstance. While neither floor general played for a winning team as rookies, Kidd’s Mavericks actually had two players who averaged more than 20 points per contest: Jamal Mashburn (24.1) and Jim Jackson (25.7).

By contrast, the 2013-14 76ers didn’t have the same scoring punch with guys like Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young. As a result, MCW had to assert himself more on the offensive end as a scorer, rather than distribute the ball as often as Kidd did.

Carter-Williams has been lagging behind his new coach in terms of dishing out dimes, but he’s still a capable passer. With teammates like Giannis Antetokounmpo and (eventually) Jabari Parker in Milwaukee, the Syracuse product will have talented young wing players at his side for the foreseeable future.

Of course, even a superior supporting cast may not morph the young point guard into the same elite passer Kidd was throughout a Hall-of-Fame-caliber career. Where similarities between the new player/coach tandem continue to take shape, however, is on the boards.

Like Kidd did at 6'4", Carter-Williams has used his 6'6" frame to rebound at an elite rate for his position. During his rookie season, MCW led all point guards by grabbing 6.2 rebounds per contest—next best at the position was Kyle Lowry of the Raptors at 4.7 per game.

Throughout '14-15, the freshly minted Milwaukee Buck has once again been among the top of the pack in the category. Only Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook averages more rebounds on a per-game basis among point guards.

The 23-year-old has the skill set, size and dynamic playmaking ability needed to become an all-time great. Whether he eventually does just that depends on his offensive efficiency. For his career thus far, MCW is shooting just 39.6 percent from the field and a woeful 26.1 percent from three-point range. Granted, those numbers have occurred while playing for a rebuilding franchise without much talent that has seemingly been tanking for better draft position. Still, it’s hard to spin those numbers into a positive light.

On the bright side for Carter-Williams, Kidd was also a poor outside shooter when he first entered the league. His field goal percentage never saw much of a bump, but he did manage to develop a respectable three-point stroke.

By reinventing himself as a knock-down shooter from downtown later in his career, Kidd managed to climb the NBA leaderboard for three-point field goals made. He currently sits fifth in league history.

A young Kidd and upstart Carter-Williams share a lot of the same strengths and weaknesses in their respective games. Now that it’s J-Kidd’s job to mold the youngster moving forward, it will be fascinating to see how MCW develops.

There’s a lot to like about the direction the Bucks are heading, but now the organization’s long-term success will be tied to the relationship between Carter-Williams and Kidd. If they can make the partnership work, Milwaukee will soon become a legitimate force in the Eastern Conference.

More from Ben Leibowitz:

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