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Carter-Williams joins elite company as new NBA Rookie of the Year

The Philadelphia 76ers were recognized for their futility all season. However, only one element of the current Sixers gave fans reason to hope for the future. While Michael Carter-Williams can't rebuild the Sixers by himself, he was recognized for his initial efforts on May 5 with the NBA's Rookie of the Year honors.

2013: Damian Lillard -- Lillard has already gone from Rookie of the Year to playoff hero for the Portland Trail Blazers 12 months later.
Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Carter-Williams officially recognized as NBA's top rpokie
Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Carter-Williams was the league's best rookie almost from day 1 of his career, even when the Sixers fell into the depths of despair. But given that the NBA's rookie class was panned as one of the worse in years from day 1, it may not be such a big honor.

Since the Rookie of the Year was from a Philadelphia team that couldn't win 20 games and lost a record-tying 26 games in a row, it condemns the class more than honors it. With 104 out of a possible 124 first place votes, well ahead of second place Victor Oladipo of the Orlando Magic, Carter-Williams was immune to the other Sixers' misery.

Yet Carter-Williams fought through the losing, moreso than the rest of the Sixers who likely won't stay with him in the next few years. The hope is that once Nerlens Noel takes the court and once Philadelphia gets its high draft pick from this year's much richer draft lottery, the tide will turn for the Sixers with Carter-Williams at the center.

He will have to eclipse the bar from this past season for that to happen, instead of staying the same or regressing. With 16.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 6.2 assists per game, Carter-Williams set a high bar by being the first rookie to lead all three categories since Oscar Robertson in 1950-51.

The contemporary Rookies of the Year are the real standard for Carter-Williams to match, however. The Sixers may not have someone on the level of a Damian Lillard, Blake Griffin, Kevin Durant, Derrick Rose, Chris Paul and LeBron James quite yet, but having Carter-Williams win the same award that they all once did is as good a sign as any.

The accompanying slideshow lists the last 10 Rookie of the Year winners. If Carter-William can come anything close to their level, no matter who else helps him in future years, the Sixers may be vindicated for not giving him any help at all this season.