Aug 22, 2013, 4:12 PM EDT
With Michael Carter-Williams the first and only entry on the Sixers’ current depth chart at point guard–seriously, check it out–it was highly probable that the Sixers were gonna pick up another guy to play the one before off-season’s end. You figured it would probably be an experienced journeyman type, like an Earl Watson or Jamaal Tinsley, someone who can run the offense competently while MCW rests and pick up a spare start or two if necessary, and more importantly, teach him some of the finer points of the position and help them out with general veteran know-how.
Nope. The Sixers got their man for the backup point today, and it’s a raw, talented, athletic young guy who can’t shoot. (Yes, just like our starter.) Sam Hinkie traded a future second-rounder today–said to be top 50 protected, which essentially means it’ll never materialize–for Memphis Grizzlies benchwarmer Tony Wroten, a second-year player out of Washington, a player I’ve long coveted for reasons I can’t possibly justify numerically.
Wroten’s stats last year, after being taken by Memphis in the first round with the 25th pick, were thoroughly unimpressive: 2.6 points and 1.2 assists a game on 39% shooting in 272 total minutes. But the dude’s only gonna be 20 years old at the start of the season–he was born a week after the first Tool album came out, come on–and he’s got length and athleticism to spare, as a 6’6″, 205 pound point guard as well as impressive court vision, albeit paired with some pretty poor decision-making. Coming into the NBA, he drew some comparisons to Rajon Rondo, except he’s a lot bigger (and for the moment at least, a much less effective playmaker). Here’s some of the spare footage out there of Tony doing work in the NBA:
If the Sixers are looking to build around youth, size and athleticism, like they appear to have been with their two first-round picks in last year’s draft, Wroten seems to fit right into that, and his upside remains sizable for a guy with basically no NBA track record. And for what it’s worth, Wroten was far more productive in his 11-game stint with the Grizz’ D-League affiliate, averaging about 17 and four a game in just 27 minutes per contest. Here’s some footage of him last year with the Reno Big Horns.
So how were we able to get Wroten so cheap? Well, the Grizzlies had become a little disenchanted with Tony’s play over the course of last season, and through to this year’s Summer League, where he had a fairly poor showing in Vegas. As a contending team who signed two other backup point guards this off-season (Nick Calathes and Josh Akogon) with more experience than Wroten, it makes sense that it would be hard for Wroten to get the PT necessary to grow. Still, the fact that they gave him up essentially for nothing but cap space–as the Rockets did when they jettisoned Royce White to us–has to give you at least a little bit of pause, make you think that maybe there’s a reason they had such little belief in this guy.
Still, as just about everyone will be quick to point out regarding this move (and every other Sixers move from this off-season), there’s really no risk to it at all. If Wroten flops with the Sixers and doesn’t seem like he’s going to get any better, then it’s no skin off our backs, as we didn’t give up anything to get him, and we aren’t really trying to win games right now anyway. In the meantime, Sixers geeks like myself will get another shiny new toy whose progress we can obsess over to distract us from all the 110-82 blowouts the team finds itself in. Once again, everybody wins.
It will be interesting to see how the Sixers do decide to use Wroten, in any event–if they keep him in the backup point guard role to trade off with MCW, or if Brett Brown actually dares attempt to play Wroten and Carter-Williams in the same back court, which–especially assuming Evan Turner joins along side at the three–might result in the Sixers becoming the most miserable-shooting team in NBA history, a team without a single player you have to guard outside of 12 feet. (Except maybe Spencer Hawes.) He’ll get plenty of time and opportunity to find his role on this crappy young team, however, so good for Tony.
Life is full of possibilities. What a great off-season.
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