One of the more ironically “iconic” players from the Sixers hardcore tanking days, Tony Wroten truly embodied what it meant to be a member of “The Process”. A failed first-round draft pick for the Memphis Grizzlies, Wroten found a home with the 76ers for a few years.
A First-team All-Pac-12 player coming out of college, Wroten was one of the higher rated guards in the 2012 draft class. A “one and done” freshman who averaged 16 points per game at Washington University, Wroten fit the stereotypical build of an athletic, slashing guard.
Despite being selected in the first round, Wroten really struggled to get things going in his rookie season. Partly due to his inability to shoot the three, and partly due to his extremely young age (19 years old), Wroten spent a majority of the 2012 season down in the NBA D-League (now the G-League).
Across 35 games and zero starts, Wroten averaged 2.6 points per game his rookie season.
With Wroten clearly out of favor in Memphis and the Sixers now under new management (hi Sam Hinkie), a trade was agreed upon to send Wroten to Philly in exchange for a future second-round pick and a trade exception. Not much of a return for Memphis on their former first-round selection.
Wroten was a player who fit exactly the style of team that Hinkie was planning to build, and right off the bat it seemed like the trade was turning out to be an absolute home run for the Sixers. In Wroten’s first ever career start, he posted a triple-double.
This was the first time in NBA history where a player recorded a triple-double in their initial career start.
*Terry Rozier later accomplished this same feat in January of 2018*
After making basketball history, Wroten would go on to have a pretty solid 2013-2014 season with his new team. Averaging 13 points per game, Wroten bounced back and forth as a starter and a rotational guy off the bench. His above average athleticism always providing a spark when he was on the court.
Wroten’s development would appear to start taking the next step the following season, as he saw his average points per game rise all the way to 16.9 through the season’s first few months. Paired with recently drafted Michael Carter-Williams in the back court, the duo had the appearance of legit future contributors.
Unfortunately, Wroten would partially tear his ACL in January and require season-ending surgery. At the time of the operation, Wroten was averaging career highs pretty much across the board.
By the time Wroten returned to action in December of the following year, almost everything had changed. Not only was Wroten a different player due to his surgery, but the landscape of the team he left behind was completely altered. Carter-Williams had been traded at the deadline the year prior, the Sixers had brought in two new guards in Ish Smith and TJ McConnell, and the front office was reportedly eyeing yet another guard in the upcoming draft (Ben Simmons).
After playing just 8 games in 2015, Wroten was waived by the 76ers.
Wroten was picked up by both the Knicks and the Grizzlies over the weeks that followed, but both teams released him before he even logged a minute. This likely points to lasting issues deriving from his knee surgery.
Wroten bounced around a few G-League teams before eventually taking his talents overseas. From 2018 to 2020, Wroten spent time in both the Estonian and Polish basketball leagues.
Currently, Wroten is playing for “Joventut Badalona”, a Spanish club which participates in the “Liga ACB”. Wroten is averaging 11.3 points and 4.5 assists per game with them, playing just over 20 minutes a game. Not bad.
Like a majority of the guys who played for the Sixers during the Process, Sam Hinkie and the front office was never truly committed to Tony Wroten. While it would have been nice to see what he could have accomplished without the knee injury, the 76ers always had their eye on point guards later down the road (Simmons, Fultz).
Even if Wroten had stayed healthy and continued to progress the way he was in 2015, he likely would have been traded away for draft picks, just like a majority of his teammates. Sad, but quite true.
Check out some of the other entries in our “Rewinding the Process” series:
Nerlens Noel: https://phillysportsnetwork.com/2020/03/21/noel-2/
Hollis Thompson: https://phillysportsnetwork.com/2020/03/23/hollis/
Jahlil Okafor: https://phillysportsnetwork.com/2020/03/28/okafor-2/
Mandatory Credit – © Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports