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.

End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

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End to End: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Each week, we'll ask questions about the Flyers to our resident hockey analysts and see what they have to say.

Going End to End this week are Tom Dougherty, Jordan Hall and Greg Paone, all producers/reporters for CSNPhilly.com.

The question: Which Flyer has the most to lose in 2016-17?

Dougherty
What Shayne Gostisbehere accomplished in his rookie season was unforgettable. He set Flyers records, broke some NHL rookie records and finished with 17 goals in 64 games.

The list can go on and on. He can become the first Flyer to win the Calder Trophy when the NHL Awards are announced on June 22. We all want to see what "Ghost" can do as an encore.

But now Gostisbehere has expectations. Lofty expectations — fair or not.

Gostisbehere will be expected to quarterback the power play, a job he excelled at this season and wrangled away from Mark Streit, whose injury paved the way for his call-up.

In addition, Gostisbehere will be asked to produce offensively and consistently as well as continue to hone his defensive game, which still has areas that needs improvement.

Seventeen goals will be difficult to duplicate and we should not hold him to — or expect — that number again in his sophomore season. We should all temper our expectations.

But the reason I believe Gostisbehere has the most to lose in 2016-17 is because he's very much still a growing product. There will be growing pains and should he hit those next season, how will he bounce back from it? Defensemen generally develop at a slower pace than forwards, and for Gostisbehere to enjoy so much success in Year 1, how will he react to a step backward in 2016-17? It's a weighted response and one that's geared more toward the long-term, but to me, Gostisbehere has the most to lose next season.

Hall
I believe Matt Read will be back next season.
 
After all, he’s under contract through the 2017-18 campaign.
 
But his leash will be as short as it’s even been. At 30 years old, he’ll be fighting just to dress. And when he gets playing time, he’ll have to do enough to show he deserves it over other candidates, many of which will be young, spry and hungry for jobs.
 
Read said he learned a lot last season.
 
Will he make adjustments and carve out a role in Dave Hakstol’s system?
 
Next season, we’ll get an answer.
 
If he doesn’t, his time in Philadelphia could quickly dissolve.
 
And who knows what that would mean for his NHL career.

Paone
Want to talk about having something to lose. How about possibly losing a job, which is a very real possibility for Scott Laughton next season.

The young forward, who will turn 22 on Monday, posted seven goals and 14 assists in a career-high 71 games this season. But much more telling was the fact he found himself in the press box as a healthy scratch down the stretch, as Dave Hakstol felt there were better options as the team completed its improbable run to the playoffs. And that came after he was moved from his natural center position to the wing for the first time since he represented Canada in the world junior tournament.

His inconsistency has come a pretty bad time because as more and more talented prospects come through the system, roster spots with the big club become more and more precious. Laughton will need to have a very good summer and training camp to earn his spot again. The forward prospects will push him during camp, which could be a good thing. But even if Laughton makes the Flyers out of camp when the season starts, the leash could still be short. 

Ron Hextall makes no bones about how he prefers to hold on to young talent and let it develop. But we could be at the point where the Flyers want to see Laughton take the next step. And it could be a much different story if you replace young talent with young talent.

Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

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Eagles mailbag: Jordan Matthews, injury concern, leading rusher

Another day, another mailbag. 

I hope you're enjoying your Memorial Day Weekend. If you're reading this on the beach or at a BBQ, well done. 

Yesterday, I answered the first round of your questions about Doug Pederson, Brandon Spikes and the possibility of adding another running back. 

Today, I'll answer some more: 

At times, Jordan Matthews will still be in the slot this season. But he won't be there all the time. 

In Doug Pederson's offense, the receivers will move around quite a bit, which means we'll see Matthews lining up out wide on both sides and in the slot. He has the ability to do both. Either way, he's going to be on the field. He's clearly the Eagles' best receiver and they're not going to take him off the field. 

I think there's a good chance we'll see some Josh Huff in the slot this year, which would make a ton of sense to me. Huff is at his best when he gets the ball in his hands and can make something happen. He's shifty enough to play in the middle. 

The idea that slot receivers are just small, shifty guys is outdated. It's all about matchups and Pederson won't be afraid to move his receivers around to find the best ones. 

Good question. I'll give you two names. One on offense and one on defense. 

Now, I didn't just pick the best players, I picked the best players with the biggest drop off to their backups. So on offense, it's Jason Peters and on defense it's Jordan Hicks. 

The scary thing: it wouldn't be shocking if either of these two go down in 2016. 

If Peters goes down, the Eagles will be fine at left tackle, because Lane Johnson will shift over. But that means either Dennis Kelly or Halapoulivaati Vaitai will come in. We all know what's happened in the past when Kelly comes in, and Vaitai is just a rookie. Not a ton of great depth at tackle. 

As for Hicks, we saw what happened to the defense when he went out last season. And this year, the team has virtually no depth at linebacker. If Hicks went down, either veteran special teams player Najee Goode or rookie Joe Walker would need to fill in. Yikes. 

I understand it's kind of a cop-out to just pick the top running back on the depth chart, but that's what I'm doing. I know Ryan Mathews has a lengthy injury history, but I can't see Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood or Kenjon Barner being the team's leading rusher. 

And when healthy, Mathews was the team's best running back in 2015, going for 539 yards on 106 carries, an average of 5.1 yards per attempt. If he manages to play 12 games this year, I think he'll be the team's leading rusher. 

Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs

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Today's Lineup: Tommy Joseph, Andres Blanco in to help avoid sweep vs. Cubs

Seeking to avoid being swept for the first time since their opening series in Cincinnati, the Phillies on Sunday afternoon will ask Tommy Joseph to provide a much needed spark.

Joseph, 24, sat out Saturday's 4-1 loss to the MLB-best Cubs with Chicago trotting out right-handed pitcher Kyle Hendricks, who crafted a five-hit, one-run complete game masterpiece.

It will be Joseph's fifth game against a righty this week, as manager Pete Mackanin's platoon at first base with Ryan Howard seemingly is coming to an end. Joseph will bat fifth.

With the Phillies averaging 3.22 runs per game, second-worst in baseball, and owning a run differential of minus-38, playing Joseph more is one of a few moves Mackanin can make.

Take into account Howard's average dipped to .154 after an 0 for 4, two-strikeout game Saturday, the decision to give Joseph more at-bats makes sense. It has for a while now.

Plus, Joseph has enjoyed success during his time up with the Phillies. The first baseman is hitting .290 with two home runs and four RBIs. He is, however, hitting just .211 with seven of his 10 strikeouts in 19 at-bats against righties. He'll face a good one in John Lackey (4-2, 3.32) on Sunday.

Mackanin has also decided to start Andres Blanco at second base against Chicago, which has proved to be too much for the Phils through the first two games. Blanco, 32, will bat third against Lackey, who he has never faced in his career. The utility man is hitting .281 with one long ball and eight RBIs in 35 games this season.

In other lineup news, the Cubs will start Villanova product Matt Szczur in left field in the series finale, giving Jorge Soler the day off. During his junior baseball season at 'Nova in 2010, Szczur took time off to donate bone marrow that helped saved a young girl in Ukraine. (Read more on Szczur here from CSNPhilly.com's Jim Salisbury.) Szczur is hitting .375 with two homers and 12 RBIs in 40 at-bats this season with Chicago.

Here are today's full lineups:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Andres Blanco, 2B
4. Maikel Franco, 3B
5. Tommy Joseph, 1B
6. Cameron Rupp, C
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Vince Velasquez, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

Cubs
1. Dexter Fowler, CF
2. Jayson Heyward, RF
3. Kris Bryant, 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo, 1B
5. Ben Zobrist, 2B
6. Miguel Montero, C
7. Addison Russell, SS
8. Matt Szczur, LF
9. John Lackey, P

For more on today's game, read Steven Tyding's game notes.