The Sixers Got Point Guard Tony Wroten for Nothing And That's a Cool Thing

The Sixers Got Point Guard Tony Wroten for Nothing And That's a Cool Thing

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.
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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.

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

North Dakota appears to be Eagles country

It appears that Carson Wentz' fanbase in North Dakota is still pretty strong. Before North Dakota State’s game against Illinois State Saturday afternoon, fans were seen walking around the parking lot in Carson Wentz Eagles’ jerseys. 

Wearing Eagles gear at the tailgate was not all, however. A large group of people begun chanting “Carson” over and over to show their love and support for the Eagles quarterback. 

This is not the first time we have seen North Dakota State fans showing how much they adore Carson Wentz. Going back to the NFL Draft, fans were seen on the red carpet wearing North Dakota State Wentz jersey’s and waving flags.

On Sept. 19, when the Eagles played the Bears, North Dakotans traveled to see Wentz play in person.

Clearly, Wentz has a lot of love from his fans back at home, but it is safe to say that Eagles fans love him just as much after he has led them to a 3-0 start.  

It doesn't hurt that Wentz' cousin, Connor, plays for North Dakota State. Connor is a redshirt junior tight end.

John Clark with Connor Wentz

A photo posted by Rob Kuestner (@rkuestner23) on

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect Sixers to take cautious approach with Ben Simmons

Expect the Sixers to take a cautious approach when determining Ben Simmons’ return to the court.

Simmons will undergo surgery to repair a fractured fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot, according to a league source. No date has been set for the surgery. On Friday, Simmons rolled his ankle during the final training camp scrimmage. According to ESPN's Marc Stein, the Sixers believe Simmons has an acute injury that is not related to his weight, which is up to 250 pounds.

The Sixers placed a heavy emphasis on maintaining health and preventing re-injuries during camp. That focus will continue into the regular season. They implemented load management, in which they allocate the best use of a player’s designated minutes. 

The approach was applied to Joel Embiid and Jahlil Okafor, as they entered the preseason coming off of injuries. Embiid, who is nearing his NBA debut, had been sidelined the past two years with foot injuries. Okafor underwent season-ending right knee surgery last March. Both are slated to play Oct. 4 in the preseason opener. Gerald Henderson also followed load management for rest.  

“There are more variables going on pre-practice,” Brett Brown said Friday. “Before we design our practices and figure out how we’re going to maneuver through the day, the first thing we always do is we put on a digital projector a depth chart and we have the medical staff behind us talking about the circumstances of each player and the restrictions that each player has. 

“Once you understand that world, then you go over to the practice plan and you say, ‘How do you want to spend your money?’ I don’t want to use Joel’s minutes up in a lot of small drills when I could spend it easily and more wisely playing.”

Following this plan, Embiid, Okafor and Henderson did not participate in all of the scrimmages. When they did, Brown utilized Embiid and Okafor in spurts instead of long stretches. 

“Four-minute clumps and really trying to test themselves,” Brown said. “Let’s learn a little bit before we play the Celtics. Let’s just go as hard as you possibly can, let’s see what that means.”

The mapped-out formula allows the players to gauge how they assert their energy on the court. The Celtics took a similar approach with Kevin Garnett during the 2011-12 season. Doc Rivers implemented a “5-5-5” plan in which Garnett played in three five-minute spurts. 

“You kind of know the rhythm you are going to have,” Okafor said. “I think that’ll make it easier for myself and I’m sure for Jo as well knowing that we have four minutes to go as hard as we can, to make an impact on the game, and then we have a sub.” 

The Sixers assessed the length of these segments by comparing them to real-game situations. They want the scrimmage setting to simulate the flow regular season contest. The Sixers are looking to feature an uptempo this season and ranked first in the NBA last season with a total of 1,427.4 miles run. 

“With our sports science program, we’re designing our practice on trips,” Brown said. “How many trips does a normal NBA game have before there’s a stoppage in play? You see, it’s about six, seven trips. You’ve got to go for that … We’re very calculated on how we design our practice to reflect the true pace of a game.”

While there is the eagerness of players to make a comeback as quickly as possible, following the team’s carefully constructed recovery timeline is critical to prevent the reoccurance of injuries. Embiid better understands the importance of waiting after undergoing two surgeries. 

“The main thing I learned about myself is, I could be patient,” Embiid said. “When I was first doing my rehab … the only thing I thought about was getting back on the court. I would try to get back on the court and play more than I was supposed to. After the doctor told me you had to heal well and I needed the second surgery, that’s when I told myself be patient and do whatever I can and make sure I listen to people have to say.”

The Sixers drafted Simmons to be a centerpiece of their team for the future, not just this season. It is worth being careful early on to help him be healthy down the road.