The forgotten Sixers: Tony Wroten and Jason Richardson

The forgotten Sixers: Tony Wroten and Jason Richardson
August 29, 2014, 12:00 pm
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The Sixers' 2014-15 roster is like a second-tier album you haven't heard in a while from a band you used to love--you remember the big hits, but some of the deep cuts might elude your memory, until you listen to it for the first time in ages and you're like "Oh yeah, this song! I forgot about this song!"

Similarly, while you may have spent mental energy this summer considering the potential futures of Michael Carter-Williams, Nerlens Noel and recent arrivals like KJ McDaniels and Alexey Shved, you may have totally forgotten about some of the dudes still on the bench from last year. Specifically, you may have forgotten about Tony Wroten and Jason Richardson.

Wroten was one of the bigger stories of last summer for the Sixers, coming over from Memphis essentially for free in a typical Hinkie asset grab. He played well enough in a couple preseason scrimmages to make fans wonder if there could end up being a quarterback controversy between him and Carter-Williams, and was actually assigned by coach Brett Brown to be a sort of mentor to MCW, despite actually being two years younger than the rookie PG.

The year started off pretty well for T-Wrote, who scored in the double-digits in ten of his first 12 games for the Sixers and posted a triple-double in his first start--amazingly, the first player in NBA history to do so. Wroten ran hot and cold from there, hamstrung a little by his brutal lack of shooting range and his tendency to turn the ball over trying to make overambitious plays in the half-court. By season's end, Wroten was so consistent with his strenghts and weaknesses in the backcourt that it seemed pointless to discuss or debate him much further. 

Richardson was even easier to forget about, since he did not play a single second last year. After playing about half a season for the Sixers since coming over from Orlando in the Andrew Bynum trade, J-Rich had knee surgery in February of 2013, and that ended up knocking him out not only for the remainder of the '12-'13 season, but for the entirety of '13-'14 as well. Richardson is now 33, to turn 34 during the season, and is owed $6.6 million from the Sixers in the final year of his contract.

Neither are among the most interesting players going into next year for the Sixers, but both could end up playing roles--big ones, even--for the Sixers in their second-straight, um, transitional season.

Wroten, it's easy to forget, is still just 21, and he actually improved more last year than we tend to remember. His scoring average, FG%, TS% and PER all went up significantly from his rookie season in Memphis, and his turnover percentage went down--thought, it should be said, so did his assist percentage. He also got to the free throw line better than anyone else on the Sixers, averaging 6.6 free throws per 36 minutes. He still posted one of the team's lowest offensive ratings (92) due to his incredibly poor shooting (and high shot volume), but the upside remains there for Tony. 

It really comes down to if he can either improve his shot from "horrific" to merely "unseemly," or figure out a way to be effective on offense while simply not hoisting that many three-pointers. Wroten probably won't be able to start alongside the similarly rangeless MCW anytime soon, but he could be a hugely effective weapon for us off the bench--like Tyreke Evans, to whom Wroten is often compared, was for New Orleans last season, posting a career best 18.4 PER while shooting just 22% from three, only hoisting about one triple a game.

Richardson, on the other hand, could be very useful for his shooting. It seems like forever ago now, but J-Rich was actually huge for us during the first month or so of his Sixers career, averaging 13 points on 45% three-point shooting through the end of November '13, as the Sixers went 7-5 in the 12 games he played. Then nagging injuries (and probably some regression to the mean) took their toll, Jason's shot stopped falling with any consistency, and in January he was shut down completely, put in mothballs for the next 18 months.

On a roster with virtually no three-point shooting--second-year wing Hollis Thompson is the only other player on the roster who can be reasonably expected to provide even league-average shooting from distance--J-Rich's primary skill in his advanced age could certainly come in handy. It's possible we may never see that player from November 2012 again, but at the very least, he's up and moving again, and from his recent Instagrams, he doesn't look all that bad:

If we play him back to some degree of viability, J-Rich could also be of some value to the Sixers come trade deadline. Nobody's gonna give us anything incredibly valuable for a 34-year-old expiring coming off a major injury, but a veteran who can reliably hit from distance might be worth a future second-rounder or the rights to an overseas stash, or just a trade exception or some other minor asset. On a team like this, it's probably worth a shot, anyway.

Neither Wroten or RIchardson is likely to play a large part in the team's future, but in their present, they're still around, and for the 2013-'14 Sixers, that alone is enough to make them relevant. It's gonna be all hands on deck for a team this shallow with veterans and proven rotation guys, and if there's anything for T-Wrote or J-Rich to show us, they should get plenty of opportunity to show it this year.