Our third article taking a look into the Sixers Point Guard Predicament turns our attention to Tony Wroten. After starting 2014 very hot indeed before the return of Michael Carter-Williams, which saw his minutes and form decline. Then he suffered a season ending ACL injury. But now with MCW out of the equation, is this the season Wroten can truly emerge as one of the best?
His main criticism coming off of last year is his turnover rate. 113 turnovers were committed last season in just 30 games. But where does that come from? Many seem to think that he’s too fast for his own good. Like Smith, he’s one of the best in the league when it comes to getting to the rim..only much more effective on finishing the chances he creates. But that speed haunts Wroten and he tends to rely on it as such.
If the lanes become congested and there’s no room for Wroten to make one of his emphatic journeys to the rim, Wroten becomes more of a hindrance than a help..or at least that’s what we learned last year. In the 2014 season, Wroten made 434 field-goal attempts. Over half of those attempts were from inside five feet with only 23% being converted from outside that distance. His overall stats last season were very reflective:
And there lies the crux of the problem. Wroten has previously been far to reckless on the court. His abundance of attempts to rush to the rim only saw his free throw attempts rocket up..but he only managed .667 of Free Throws out of 180 attempts.
But let’s look at the positives. Providing that he can stay healthy after the ACL injury he’s previously suffered, he could become a huge part in the Sixers rebuild. At just 22, he stands at 6″6, giving him a huge height advantage over the likes of Smith and Canaan. If he became more consistent on the Defensive end he could become a huge problem for any opponent the Sixers face. If he was smart, he would focus his pre-season on efforts on becoming a more established threat defensively to increase his chances of winning the starting role.
His big advantage however is his youth. Yes he makes a lot of mistakes but he’s only just turned 22. Being extremely young means that he can still improve and perfect his craft. He very much mirrors the type of player that MCW was. Tall frame, commits a lot of turnovers but is almost unstoppable when rushing the rim. If he can work on becoming a much more all rounded guard then the starting job would be his in a heartbeat. His tenure with the team should already put him in good stead and his undisputed ability to get to the rim against any player he chooses is both a blessing and a curse..it’s just up to Wroten which side of said blessing he wishes to fall.
The key thing this year is that Wroten will have arguably much better support around him. With the likes of Okafor and Noel looking set to have defining seasons, it seems almost crazy for Wroten to suffer here. His assists would soar if he could establish a relationship like Smith and Noel and the world is yet to see just how effective Okafor could be. But with the Sixers in a much stronger position compared to 12 months ago, Wroten is almost given a clean slate. New players, new weapons and a new era after returning from injury. This alone could see Wroten emerge as a much more mature player with a more selfless style of play. His athletic ability is a tool to be used selflessly and if Wroten can find a way to harness such incredible speed with consistent passing then he’s going to not only be a threat when rushing but in terms of setting up plays.
He has the frame to be beyond a threat to any other guard he comes across, again it’s just a case of refining his game.
He’s an exhilarating player to watch, but as mentioned previously can worry even the most knowledgable of NBA fans. His high school esque’ errors simply won’t cut it this year. With such an abundance of Guards in this league, it would be hard for Wroten to pick up a similar role in another team if he suffers yet another bad season or injury. His numbers actually went UP on the 2013-14 campaign..UP. There’s a huge talent to be worked with when it comes to Tony Wroten, but if his defensive debacles continue to leave fans with the hands over their face in shock, then his Sixers career may come to a sudden halt. It’s do or die for Tony Wroten.
+Arguably one of the best in the league at rushing the rim
+His speed is very difficult to stop
+Still incredibly young and a cheap option
+Has much better team around him to build on
+Expectations are low, not as much pressure
-Has been anything but helpful defensively
-Struggles with consistency
-Needs to work on free throws if he is to obtain aggressive style of play
-Possibility of Re-Injury
Overall Grade: C+
Whilst perhaps not the most solid option for a starter in terms of an all rounded guard, he’s probably leading the race as of right now. With the team showing such significant signs of upgrade, even if Wroten were to stagnate at last seasons efforts, the rising of the Sixers would almost certainly drag his stats up. He’s got all the talent in the world to become a leading guard for this team, it just comes down to two things. Can he utilise that talent to eliminate his defensive woes? Can he do it within 12 months, because another season like the last and he may well be heading out of Philly bearing in mind how many first round picks that the team now own.